WHAT T HE HE C K I S T HE C L O U D ?
INSIGHT FROM THE CTO OF A
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.