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Real estate in the cloud and on earth

By Jean-Claude Elias - Jun 26,2014 - Last updated at Jun 26,2014

Comparing real estate in the cloud and on earth is an interesting operation. There may be differences but there are many similarities too.

It’s all about the space you would rent, and of course the larger that space — the higher the rent. Virtual realtors are after you, trying to entice you to go with them. Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Dropbox and Apple, to name the main players in the game, want you to rent their space. The least expensive is not necessarily the one that is best for you.

For instance, Dropbox currently is where the rent is highest, but the quality of the service, the functionality and the uptime are unmatched. It’s like renting an apartment in a fancy neighbourhood — it comes with countless, obvious advantages.

Where real estate in the cloud is really different from real estate on earth is in the global trend of price evolution. Whereas prices in the latter case tend to go up with time, as a general rule, those in the cloud are bound to go down, systematically. Now the average cost is about a half dinar per gigabyte per year.

Besides, if your data storage needs are not much, if you can be content with say five to 15 gigabytes, most providers will gladly give you such space for free. They bet on the fact that sooner or later you will need more space and that by then you will be willing to pay a rent. Indeed, paid cloud storage usually kicks in from 20 GB and up.

Interestingly, this week Microsoft announced that they were now giving twice the free space they used to offer consumers before, with their excellent OneDrive online storage service. In real life there is no such thing as free real estate!

Again, not all real estate is created equal. Does it offer a sea view, is it located in a quiet environment, is it a safe neighbourhood, and is the air around it clean? Translated in cloud terms it all comes down to the features and functionality that your virtual storage service offers and how easy it is to use in the end.

Dropbox for instance offers excellent, unattended synchronisation of data between all your devices, whether computers or portable devices.Moreover it provides a very easy, quick way to share contents with those users you decide to give a link to these contents. This is particularly convenient when sharing photos, files, or entire folders for that matter.

Microsoft cloud storage ensures a smooth link with their popular Office 365 online suite. Amazon has an interesting offer: If you buy their brand new Fire smartphone, you will be allowed to unlimited storage of all photos taken with the device; now that’s smart marketing and sales strategy, isn’t it?

A few weeks ago Western Digital, the hard disk maker, experienced several days of outage with its MyCloud storage it was giving its users. Nowadays an outage of more than few minutes is hardly tolerable by consumers. Being denied access to your data in the cloud is tantamount to losing your apartment’s key and being forced to go to the hotel or a relative’s to sleep.

One noticeable consequence of the increasing demand for virtual real estate is the pressure it puts on Internet traffic. This is a major contributor to bandwidth consumption and is in no way to be underestimated.

Two days ago a friend was complaining of the slowness of his home ADSL connection at night, though his is a fast 24Mbps subscription. It appeared that countless users in the country are now watching the World Cup matches online and therefore creating Internet congestion at this time of day.

Ever increasing real estate rental in the cloud is bound to put more and more pressure on the network. Hopefully the telecoms and the providers will take this into consideration in their master plan.

A last point of comparison. In real life you can buy real estate. In the cloud you can only rent it.

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