WHAT T HE HE C K I S T HE C L O U D ?

INSIGHT FROM THE CTO OF A

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POP­U­LAR ME­CHAN­ICS:

What is the Cloud, and do you have an anal­ogy you like to use to an­swer that ques­tion?

MATT QUINN: My mom grew up on a farm, so that’s prob­a­bly the one I use the most. Go back 60 years. You had a farm and wanted elec­tric­ity, so you bought a gen­er­a­tor. And you were re­spon­si­ble for main­tain­ing that gen­er­a­tor. Then farms got con­nected to the power grid. You may have your gen­er­a­tor as backup, but you said, “I’m go­ing to have some­one else man­age the power for me.” Now, go back ten years. To store pho­tos, you bought a hard drive, maybe called up your son to help fig­ure out how to con­nect it, trans­ferred files. Like that gen­er­a­tor, you were re­spon­si­ble for it. If you didn’t do it right, you lost your pho­tos. With the Cloud, you’ve given that re­spon­si­bil­ity to some­one else, some­one who is far more pro­fes­sional at it than you will ever be. I could try to set up a pro­gram that could iden­tify the peo­ple in my pho­tos or plot them on a map. Maybe that’s an in­ter­est­ing thing to do your­self.

BIL­LION-DOL­LAR TECH COM­PANY

But it’s a lot of work. Now some­body does that for you, plus thou­sands of pro­fes­sion­als who work ev­ery day to make sure your pho­tos are safe. They care more about your pho­tos than you ever will. PM:

What’s dif­fer­ent now from the first days of Drop­box or Google Drive?

MQ: It’s very hard to go to a place that doesn’t have Wi-fi, so avail­abil­ity is grow­ing. It’s im­prove­ments in our un­der­stand­ing of net­works and per­for­mance, of how much data to push down to users. But the big change is in the user ex­pe­ri­ence. On the new MACOS, my doc­u­ments folder is mir­rored in icloud. When I ac­cess a Word doc­u­ment, I’m ac­tu­ally ac­cess­ing it from icloud. But I didn’t have to con­fig­ure any­thing and I don’t have to wait for a sync. Ap­ple took a piece of the op­er­at­ing sys­tem that we all un­der­stand – when I save my Word doc­u­ment, it writes to the lo­cal drive – and ap­plied it to Cloud stor­age. The ex­pe­ri­ence is fa­mil­iar and com­pletely seam­less. PM: What do the Cloud com­pa­nies get from this? How can some­thing free be so lu­cra­tive for them? MQ: Yes, there is some mon­e­tary re­ward. A multi­na­tional Cloud com­pany of­fers free ser­vices be­cause it’s in­ter­ested in the halo ef­fect. Which is, I’m not go­ing to get much money from the in­di­vid­ual, but if I can get the in­di­vid­ual in­ter­ested in my ser­vice, I can get the cor­po­ra­tion in­ter­ested, and will­ing to pay. That’s where the money is. By of­fer­ing free email or photo stor­age, Google gets a global cor­pus of knowl­edge that it can use to run some very in­ter­est­ing ar­ti­fi­cial­in­tel­li­gence pro­grams for the fu­ture. That’s the next phase of evo­lu­tion: mak­ing sys­tems more in­tel­li­gent, giv­ing them more func­tions. The only way you’re go­ing to get there is to have ac­cess to more stuff. PM: Does it bother you that Google might read your in­for­ma­tion? MQ: You have to be a lit­tle bit wor­ried about that – do you own the data, did you

Matt Quinn, chief tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer, TIBCO

If you’ve re­ceived an Ama­zon prod­uct rec­om­men­da­tion, or tracked a Fedex pack­age, you’ve used soft­ware. It writes pro­grams that qui­etly keep the world spin­ning.

ac­ci­den­tally give the rights away to some­body else? But it’s funny. Early in my ca­reer, I was sen­si­tive about my prod­uct road maps, these plans for how I was go­ing to change the world. And when some­body would go to another com­pany and leak my map, it was al­ways a body blow. But then I re­alised, who cares? The only per­son who could take my road map and do some­thing with it was me. A lot of emails are the same way. It might be im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion if you’re me. Peo­ple’s emails are, for the most part, bor­ing. And ul­ti­mately, I don’t care if Google reads my email if it means com­ing up with a bet­ter spam fil­ter.

You post an In­sta­gram or Snapchat story. (Those videos and images go on Face­book’s and Google’s servers, re­spec­tively.) You send an email at­tach­ment us­ing Out­look. (That TPS re­port went through Mi­crosoft’s servers.) You watch a Net­flix movie. (Those movies live on servers. Un­less you still do the DVD thing.) You’re em­ployed. ( Your hu­man­re­sources de­part­ment prob­a­bly uses a Cloud ap­pli­ca­tion like Work­day.)

WORK I N G A T A D A T A C E N T R E

When you have tens of thou­sands of machines, a small per­cent­age fail daily. That’s just the na­ture of elec­tron­ics and me­chan­i­cal parts when you’re op­er­at­ing at this scale. It’s not prac­ti­cal to iden­tify prob­lems with vis­ual in­spec­tions, so we have soft­ware that no­ti­fies en­gi­neers when a net­work link has gone down, which row and rack it’s in and what part needs to be re­placed. Tech­ni­cians will claim a batch

When a Cloud com­pany puts the vi­tal bits of your data through com­plex maths equa­tions that scram­ble your doc­u­ments and images. Only an au­then­ti­cated user can re­verse the changes and see the file. Go to your Cloud ser­vice’s Set­tings, then Se­cu­rity, and find Two-step or Two-fac­tor and turn it on. When you sign in on a new de­vice, you’ll get prompted to en­ter a tem­po­rary code sent to you via text mes­sage, or you can use an app like Google Authen­ti­ca­tor to gen­er­ate codes. Soon, bio­met­rics such as fin­ger­print scans will be used for this process as well.

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