Some people believe that one day all cloud storage will be free. Several leading Internet companies are already offering cloud storage services for your photos and documents at no cost or at a reduced value for the service. It is believed that in the future these costs will be zero for the user, while providers compete for customer preference in the so-called “Race to Zero.”
As reported by our sister publication Business Review America Latina, while storage service can be free for the customer, the storage infrastructure and data services remain costly for the provider. Building data centers to hyper-scale costing billions of dollars, and cloud providers will have to find other services to afford or take advantage of the information contained in this "free" storage.
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We should consider that when you take a photo from a cell phone and the picture is saved in a public cloud service, it keeps information about where and when a picture was taken. Also, images in the pictures can be analyzed, which can reveal information about the preferences of users. Thus, it offers free storage for some kind of control over their personal data, which may offset the cost for these cloud providers.
Greg Knierierman, who works for HDS and has a successful podcast ("SpeakingTech") in The Register, has been blogging about the need for companies to control their data. He cites a recent survey by The Economist, where 87 percent of respondents reported that their senior management is very concerned about the safety and privacy of corporate data. I am sure that business users will not use free storage unless the supplier can ensure security and data privacy.
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It should be noted that offering free storage is a way to keep customers longer, since it is difficult to move large amounts of data from one cloud to another over the Internet. It becomes even more difficult if the cloud provider uses a proprietary application. It is not unreasonable to think that public cloud providers may even go beyond zero, and offer rebates or other incentives to entice users to store data in their cloud.
One way to avoid the trap of free storage is to use a content platform that provides all the controls to store, access and protect data regardless of the cloud service you use. Hitachi Content Platform, for example, allows you to manage all the content data from the firewall, store data anywhere, including public cloud, and access it anywhere with proper authorization and authentication. The client controls the encryption of data wherever it resides and can be used without fear.
Cloud storage for free is just another tool that individuals and companies can use to manage your storage needs, as long as they understand the needs of your data and compensation. Nothing is free. It cannot be measured in money, but always requires compensation. It may mean that the client waives some control.
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This week I'm traveling in India, and I will be able to communicate with my family and talk to my grandchildren, for free, using Face Time. While the service is free, now all my family has an Apple device—that is the profit of the company. I can share documents and collaborate with colleagues from Hitachi worldwide with the use of Wi-Fi in my hotel room with Hitachi HCP Anywhere, knowing that, in this way, the documents are secured.
Finally, I believe that the greatest risk in the "Race to Zero" is the sustainability of this business model. It requires constant innovation to stay ahead of the game. While the West focuses on public cloud providers like Amazon and Google, there are other companies in the cloud in other geographies as Alibaba Group, China, which could be much more aggressive and innovative in this race.
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