Using The Cloud And File Sharing For SMEs

The Cloud – where file sharing is limitless

Each year, approximately 6 billion users share over 6 petabytes of information contained in files using the cloud.

I know what you’re thinking… what the hell is a petabyte? Good question.

The short answer is a massive amount of information.

A more accurate answer is a petabyte is 1000 terabytes or one quadrillion bytes (15 zeros after the one – 1,000,000,000,000,000).

The pace of change in Information Technology has been incredible. The level of technology we carry around in smartphones far exceeds that used in a personal computer of the 1980s or what propelled us to the moon in the 1960s.

The ability to share information around the globe in an incredibly short amount of time is down to the advancement in technology.

Moore’s Law

We shouldn’t be overly surprised at the pace of change. The vision for the future was laid out in the 1960s.

In 1965 Gordon Moore was the director of research and development at Fairchild Semiconductor. For the 35th anniversary edition of Electronics magazine he was asked to write an article on the future of the semiconductor industry over the next 10 years.

He wrote an article entitled: “Cramming more components onto integrated circuits”. In his editorial, he speculated that by 1975 it would be possible to contain as many as 65,000 components on a single quarter-inch semiconductor. This represented a doubling of the number of components in a semiconductor chip on an almost annual basis.

At the 1975 International Electron Devices Meeting, Moore (then at Intel) updated his forecast. He maintained semiconductor complexity would continue to double annually until about 1980, after which it would decrease to a rate of doubling approximately every two years. It was around this time that the prediction began to be known as Moore’s Law.

Waves of technological advancement

Moore’s Law proved accurate for several decades. The advancements of industries with digital electronics during this time have been profound.

Because of the exponential rise in the quality and capability of chip components, Moore’s law is also related to the developments in microprocessor prices, memory capacity and the number and size of pixels in digital cameras.

As digital electronics became more developed so did the commercial applications of this technology.

For years computers were massive machines weighing tonnes and costing the equivalent of tens of thousands of euro. For example, in 1946 the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) was the world’s first general-purpose computer and weighed in at 27 tons.

In 1951 Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Whirlwind computer was made up of 4,500 vacuum tubes, 14,800 diodes, and covered 3,100 square feet of floor space.

Despite the massive size of these primitive computers, their capacity was tiny by today’s standards. An early commercial computer, the IBM 305 RAMAC had the classic stacks and rows of servers to operate but could only manage to hold 5MB of data.

To put that in perspective, the GIF below is would have filled taken up all the IBM 305 RAMAC memory.

via GIPHY

First wave

The first wave of Information Technology were primarily mainframes. This began in the early 1970s and stretched into the late 1980s. Only governments and the largest corporations could afford this technology. To process and retrieve the information, dumb terminals needed to be connected directly to the central server. As you can imagine, the functionality at this level was quite primitive.

Second wave

The second wave Information Technology took over in the 1990s and saw the creation of local networks. The advent of the personal computer allowed users more functionality than the dumb terminals. Microsoft Office was first released in 1989 and Microsoft Windows in 1990. By the end of the 1990s over 90% of the world’s PCs were running on Microsoft.

Current wave

In the 2000s the emphasis gradually shifted from being information TECHNOLOGY to INFORMATION technology. As more and more people spent an increasing amount time on the internet, the concept of big data began to become more ubiquitous.

Napster was a pioneering file sharing Internet service that emphasized sharing music files, typically encoded in MP3 format. Naturally, as the songs were being shared without paying the artists royalties, Napster ran into legal difficulties over copyright infringement and were eventually sued by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Napster lost and closed its service in July 2001.

File sharing in the cloud

Fast forward to 2008 and Dropbox was created. Founder Drew Houston came up with the idea after repeatedly forgetting his USB flash drive while he was a student at MIT.

He began creating a file sharing application for his personal use but realized it could wider commercial benefit to others with the same problems.

The ability of devices to process information was no longer a limiting factor. The proliferation of Wi-Fi networks allowed people to be connected regardless of their location. The invention of the smart device in the mid-2000s made access to the internet more portable and user friendly with the advent of apps. And the explosion in popularity of social media has made it easier for anyone to make connections and share information.

One year after Dropbox was created it had 1 million registered users. It quickly reached 3 million users a few months later in November 2009. It hit 100 million in November 2012, 200 million in November 2013, 400 million in June 2015, and 500 million in March 2016.

Naturally, some of the internet giant companies were quick to follow suit with Google Cloud (Drive), Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services all now major competitors with Dropbox.

Infographic: Adoption of Cloud - Who Do You Use? | Statista File sharing for business

At the centre of the various waves of information technology is the ability to share information. Today, we live in a golden age of information sharing where massive files that equate to thousands of pages of documents and data can be shared all over the world.

Here are just some of the benefits sharing files across the cloud have for businesses of all sizes.

You will find more infographics at Statista

It’s cheaper.

Gone are the days of posting files between locations, uploading data to disks or memory stick and physically transporting the information. Once you have a secure connection you can share files directly over the internet in a few simple clicks.

It’s quicker.

Forgot to send the report or pitch deck ahead of the video conference meeting? No problem. Over a solid internet connection hundreds of megabytes can be transferred in seconds.

Access anywhere.

Files can be stored in the cloud, meaning there are no longer device-dependent. Anyone connected to the cloud network can login and retrieve the files from any location on any device.

Always have a back-up.

By using a reputable cloud service, you can store your files securely. If your laptop or desktop gets broken or lost, you can retrieve your files from the cloud.

Scalability

In theory, there is no limit to the amount you can store in the cloud. Some plans will cost once you exceed a certain amount of storage. As your company grows so will the amount of data you need storing.

It doesn’t take up any space.

By its very nature, storing information in the cloud means you won’t need to have filing cabinets, stacks of paper cluttering up your office or rooms dedicated to house servers.

Can we help your business?

If these benefits could be applied to your business, you’ll need to get fast and reliable broadband. Virgin Media Business can offer you just that with some of the fastest broadband speeds in Ireland. Our solutions are designed to support your business needs. Take a look at some of our services here.