The numbers are staggering. In November 2012, cloud storage startup Dropbox surpassed 100 million users, with more than one new user signing up each second.
Rival file hosting companies, Box.net, YouSendIt are catching up. Even tech majors, Apple and Google have thrown their hats in the ring with iCloud and Google Drive respectively.
The writing on the wall is very clear: cloud storage is the future of file hosting, and companies are going all out to woo customers.
But file hosting is all set to change dramatically. Let’s take a look at its future in 2013.
1. Cleaner, Greener Data Centres
According to comScore, Google served over 12.2 billion search queries in U.S. alone in March 2012. To power this massive traffic, Google operates some of the largest data centres in the world. These data centres are spread over several acres and consume a vast amount of energy. To cut down on energy usage, Google has made a pledge to use more environment friendly fuels. Currently, renewable energy powers more than 30 percent of all Google operations.
Using renewable energy to power data centres is a new trend in file hosting. Following Google’s lead, major websites and data centre operators such as Facebook and Amazon have taken up green initiatives at their data centres.
In 2011, Facebook released a comprehensive report on its data centre energy usage and CO2 emissions. Amazon has also taken to modernizing its data centres to use renewable energy sources. Yahoo has already been a front runner in this field and is rated very highly by Greenpeace.
Clean energy for data centres is a must in 2013 as file hosting moves to the cloud. It would remove climate concerns around data centres and establish cloud storage as an environment friendly alternative to local storage.
2. Cloud Storage is Here to Stay
In October 2011, DropBox raised $250 million from a bunch of top-tier venture capitalist firms. The funding round valued the company at $4 billion. That was more than a year ago, when the company had 45 million users. Today, the company boasts over 100 million users and is wildly profitable.
Clearly, cloud server storage is here to stay. As all our services move online – videos and TV shows through YouTube and Hulu, music through Spotify, movies through Netflix – the move to cloud storage seems inevitable. Cloud technology enables easy and affordable access to all your files from anywhere, on any computer. Storing files locally is not only unnecessary, but also woefully old-fashioned.
In October, Apple launched its iCloud service that will seamlessly sync all your files to an online platform. Google Drive has already been a massive hit among users. Microsoft too has introduced its SkyDrive cloud storage product.
In a world where most of us have multiple internet devices – smartphones, tablets, computers – the need to have a single place to store all files becomes all the more important. Cloud technology enables that, making it the definitive future of file hosting in 2013.
3. Protection Against Natural Disasters
As the 2011 Japan tsunami showed, natural disasters can strike anytime, anywhere. This realization has prompted a review of data centre security, particular when faced with natural disasters.
According to GigaOM, most data centres in the world are located in disaster prone areas (California, Texas, Japan, etc.). In the aftermath of the Japanese tsunami and hurricane Sandy, it has become imperative that data centres relocated to safer areas to protect against natural disasters. As more and more people store their data in the cloud, it will become all the more important to spread risks and protect data centres against natural disasters.
4. Increased Security
In July 2012, DropBox leaked an undisclosed number of customer emails. While the damage was minimal, it points to a huge challenge for hosting as storage moves to the cloud.
Protecting user accounts will take top priority as more and more people switch to cloud hosting. DropBox has already implemented a two-step authentication process. In 2013, such practices are going to become the norm, not the exception, to protect against security threats.