Every morning, when I put my key in the ignition of my car, the radio picks up the station I left it on, and the familiar voices of The Current morning show personalities are there to ride with me to work. It’s about as reliable as the sun rising. I can turn on my radio at any hour of the day and choose from dozens of talk and music broadcasts. It’s always on.
When I get home and sit down to unwind, I flip on the tube and there are my local news anchors, my favorite game shows and some other random garbage. If I am having a restless night I can go to the living room and pacify myself with infomercials. It’s always on.
And right now; while I write this blog, send emails and update my Google Calendar, day after day, the internet is always on.
We often take these modern media conveniences for granted. How often do we consider everything that goes in to keeping these services available 24-7-365? It would be nice if we could just waltz in to the radio broadcast studio or the Google data center and just start poking around. But for these service products to be accessible-on-demand, the daily business processes have to be rather private and exclusive. There have to be strict protocols to ensure these services stay as dependable and consistent as they are. Imagine if any Joe off the street could just walk in to the T.V. studio during a live news broadcast. Sure, it sounds like a lot of fun, but it would make it impossible to deliver a consistent flow of information.
When a company is providing a service to thousands or millions of people that depend on it, there have to be specific procedures to prevent it from going down. Every employees has their specific role. Key card swipes are on every door and tightly scheduled routines make sure every action happens on cue. Security is a big priority for these organizations. The technology itself and the data being stored on it isn’t just sitting in a closet where anyone can access it. Only the individuals that are responsible for keeping the system running have access to the hardware and data.
Analysts predict that within the next five years we are likely to see another industry elevate to the “always on” group of services. SaaS and Cloud Service Providers continue to grow in popularity and variety, taking on more and more data and promising to be “always on”. If this promise is to be upheld then the same precautionary and security measures will have to be enacted. The security measures won’t be there just to protect the company though. If these cloud companies are going to be hosting as much proprietary information as it appears they will, their customers will demand the utmost security.
Even small SaaS companies like CATS have already started to move towards a lot of the commonalities we see with our other “always on” services. Our servers are locked in a vault that requires dual key cards, in multiple locations, to enter. We have set up multiple redundancies with our servers to prevent mass system outages and have virtualized our servers for higher performance, increased storage and overall operational efficiency. We have a high end security system in our office and there are a couple of rooms I can’t even get in to. We run thorough background checks on all potential hires and only place the individuals that can be trusted to keep our services “always on”.
The “Always On” mentality is what Cloud Computing is based on. Anytime, from any computer with an internet connection, you can keep a finger on the pulse of your business and a step ahead of the competition. You no longer have to be tethered to your office desk to access your data and stay in the loop. Business happens in real time now, and more and more industries are relying on their service providers to enable this constant interaction. If CSP’s want to grow (or even stay afloat) they will have to abide by much stricter security measures.
What are some other industries that you see moving toward the “Always On” model? What else is important to you as a SaaS user? What do you expect from your Cloud Service Providers?