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yARN: Where do the data play?

yARN: Where do the data play?

It's all about 'men in low hats' and data domecility

There’s an old Cat Stevens song (yes, I’m old enough to remember!) called Where Do the Children Play? The song speaks to a rapidly changing and evolving environment and uses the metaphor of the loss of children’s play space to the needs of the wealthy to explain inner urban life.

The full lyrics are available on any number of sites, but allow me to quote the chorus:

I know we've come a long way,
We're changing day to day,
So tell me, where do the children play?

The song was released in November 1970, a time when wars existed, but we weren’t afraid in our homes; when petrol was either super or standard and when a mainframe hard disk drive maxed out at about 100MB.

The Internet has also just been invented but no-one had any idea what to do with it.

These were incredibly progressive times – Man had recently landed on the Moon and long-distance air travel had become affordable for everyone.

But of course even then the suburban expansion had reversed. In-fill and other renewal projects started to eat away at the open spaces so loved by the children. Hence the Cat Stevens song.

With these open spaces vanishing, parents really started to ask “where do the children play?”

How times have changed. Political conflict still exists, but now we’ve been taught to be afraid. 100MB isn’t even an obsolete memory stick and petrol comes in more flavours than ice-cream does.

Two things there – conflict and data. And their confluence (forget the ice-cream).

Back in 1970, the only time data moved anywhere was on a backup tape from the mainframe to a secure off-site storage. Now it seems as though we find more data on the wire than actually stored somewhere.

And of course there’s nothing an “three letter agency” likes more than data. Well yes there is; how about data they can freely siphon up for analysis? (unencumbered by laws, privacy and other irritants – remember the Internet we invented earlier in this article?)

Which brings us to the central question – just where is my data right now? Or more importantly, who’s that in the low hat watching?

Anyone who owns data that could be considered of even the slightest interest to the “men in low hats” has to be very sure they know where their data is at all times; technically we call this data domecility. Chief Security Officers and Chief Compliance Officers are kept awake at night, especially during Cloud vendor negotiations wondering if their data is permanently locked into locations over which they have legal control (and the “low hats” don’t).

Just like inner urban parents, they’re perpetually asking, “where do the data play?”


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