Cloud News & Insights

Cloud Computing and Big Data – Predicting Pregnancy in Customers!

When you collect big data, there can really be a number of of ethical issues involved with its management. While these are not related to the technical aspects of handling big data, these ethical issues can be even more difficult to handle than the technical issues.

Look for example at what the New York Times published on February 16, 2012. You can find the article at this link and it gives out in graphic detail how complex the ethical issues with big data can be.

Target, as many of us are aware, is a very large chain of stores and stocks a very large range of stuff from electronics to toys and furniture and a large number of other objects of daily use. What Target has found is that many customers come to it primarily for cleaning supplies and over time, they have come to associate the stores with this line of goods. This is a habit that clients have developed and it is not easy to change.

Breaking habits is not easy but there are times when this can be done. Approaching childbirth is one such time. Target apparently discovered that during this critical and unsettled period in a woman’s life, it was possible to change purchasing habits and associate Target with all other household goods besides only cleaning supplies.

The way to do this was through analysis of big data. A very qualified statistician at the chain told The New York Times that every customer is given a unique guest ID and based on this ID, the store knows everything possible about the purchasing behavior of the client. The researcher went through very detailed listings of purchasing patterns of tens of thousands of shoppers and compared the data with the lists of shoppers who had willingly disclosed their pregnancy in a ‘baby shower register’. Analysts found that women in the second trimester of their pregnancy began to buy extra large quantities of unscented lotion, hand sanitizers and cotton balls.

The data collected could even begin to predict the date of the client’s delivery and therefore the company began to take advantage of this ‘knowledge’ by sending her a lot of specifically directed advertisements and coupons for baby care products and related items.

This kind of capability must have netted Target millions in additional sales. And I am sure that Target is not the only company that is collecting and analyzing this type of big data to improve their bottom line.

This much data gathering, storage and management needs to be hosted in a fully secured facility both physical and virtual. One thing to say about this store chain is that its locations play a major factor, since there will be multiple sources of data going to one central repository. One example is GMO Cloud, which has a multi-level security strategy that meets large quantity requirements.

Going back, two issues emerge. This kind of data collection and analysis is only possible using the cloud, because it is only the cloud that permits the collection and manipulation of really large quantities of data. The second point to make is whether such analysis is really something ethical or does it represent a gross violation of individual privacy?

This article is not about the ethical issues involved but about the capabilities that cloud computing can give your company. If you can add up the millions of bit of data you have about your customers and analyze it carefully, you may get insights that never dreamt were possible.

What do you feel about this? Are there any issues you want to flag? Do you think this kind of analysis is correct or ethical or legal?

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About the Guest Author:

Sanjay SrivastavaSanjay Srivastava has been active in computing infrastructure and has participated in major projects on cloud computing, networking, VoIP and in creation of applications running over distributed databases. Due to a military background, his focus has always been on stability and availability of infrastructure. Sanjay was the Director of Information Technology in a major enterprise and managed the transition from legacy software to fully networked operations using private cloud infrastructure. He now writes extensively on cloud computing and networking and is about to move to his farm in Central India where he plans to use cloud computing and modern technology to improve the lives of rural folk in India.

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Cloud-based 3D Rendering Farms and the Japanese Market

Large-scale 3D rendering of computer-generated imagery and video is one of the fields where cloud technology has allowed smaller companies to level the playing field. Just a few years ago, the capacity to render high quality computer-generated images and video was severely restricted due to the requirement for costly data centers and server maintenance. Fortunately, cloud-based 3D rendering has allowed companies to outsource the processing power needed for these kinds of jobs. In this article we will take a look at some aspects of the 3D rendering market in Japan, as well as possible opportunities for cloud technology service providers.

What Japanese industries require 3D rendering services today?

When talking about 3D rendering, most immediately think of the entertainment industry. There is no question that animation production, film production, and game development all have significant demand for computer generated video and imaging requiring 3D rendering. However, these kinds of businesses will often handle their rendering needs in-house using their own server rooms, sometimes because of the need to avoid any kind of leak. Fortunately for 3D rendering providers, there are numerous other industries and institutions in Japan that consistently require the services of 3D rendering companies. For example, industrial, manufacturing, architectural, graphic, and other types of design will almost always require 3D rendering. The construction market will also often require 3D rendering for many projects. Other potential clients for 3D rendering firms include educational and research institutions and government departments.

What Japanese companies are looking for when they outsource 3D rendering

Ideally, 3D rendering should be able to provide realistic video without artificiality or incongruity. Achieving this requires tremendous computing power that can be difficult to maintain and is prohibitively expensive. Because of this, most Japanese companies with a demand for 3D rendering services will require organizations that can process heavy/large media with high precision.

The demand for small 3D rendering jobs is practically non-existent because it is usually cheaper and more practical to handle such jobs in-house rather than send it to a third-party provider.

3D rendering is often in demand for the virtual testing of products and scenarios at research institutions in order to carry out calculations more accurately when working with a model or mock-up.

What is holding back the adoption of the cloud for 3D rendering in Japanese businesses?

There are several concerns that have made Japanese companies reluctant to adopt the cloud for 3D rendering. However, we have seen technological advances that gradually have helped overcome these concerns. The main problems involve the long waiting time for the data transfers involved.

Security is also a concern for many companies and, even with the stringent security measures used by most cloud services providers today, the stigma against saving sensitive company data outside of the company’s physical premises still exists. Perhaps the most important reason for the slow adoption of cloud-based 3D rendering in Japan, in comparison to American or European markets, is that the impact on costs is not nearly as dramatic as with other fields. While the cloud does make development easier and more inexpensive, the need for in-house server maintenance and operations makes its impact less noticeable.

How 3D rendering providers can do better in the Japanese market

There are several measures that can make the cloud more attractive for Japanese businesses looking to contract the services of a 3D rendering provider. One of the most important of these is establishing priority high-capacity pipelines in order to cut down transfer times. Providing direct, high-speed connections to clients can significantly affect costumer satisfaction and demand.

Even though cloud technology has grown more and more secure, it is just as important to ensure that the client understands just how secure modern encryption and back-up systems have become. Making sure that the client is aware of the safety and privacy of their data should be a priority when forging new business relationships in the region.

On a side note, one of the advantages that GMO Cloud can offer to Japanese companies is “home-court advantage.” This is not, however, the only big differentiator that the company can offer to rendering companies. To find out more, check out the Network and Data Center Specifications of GMO Cloud to better understand how the company is well suited to serve organizations that require large-scale data processing.

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About the Guest Author:

Nida Rasheed

Nida Rasheed is a freelance writer and owner of an outsourcing company, Nida often finds herself wanting to write about the subjects that are closest to her heart. She lives in Islamabad, Pakistan and can be found on Twitter @nidarasheed.

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Bringing Business Intelligence to the Cloud

BI, or business intelligence, is perhaps the fastest growing sector in the cloud computing space. There is a reason for this. In some ways, cloud architecture is ideal for collating, analyzing and experimenting with data. Data warehousing is perfectly suited for a cloud environment.

BI is the fastest growing sector in cloud computing

According to an article in Forbes, cloud-based BI and analytics will see an 84% compound annual growth rate over the next two years. The reason for this is obvious: Implementing BI solutions has always been very expensive. As a result, only large enterprises could afford to have full suites of data warehousing and BI. With cloud computing, the cost has come down considerably, allowing even small enterprises to explore BI.

The advantages of moving BI to the cloud

The most notable advantage of moving BI to the cloud is the ease of deployment. There is no need to provision hardware and servers, so the cost of implementation automatically goes down. Similarly there is no need to worry about scalability. One can now start a full-fledged BI program, test online with live data and close the program after achieving the desired objectives. The laaS offering permits structuring your BI and analytics without restrictions. In fact, one can implement, execute and complete a BI program in less than a week. This is one of the most important reasons why cloud-based solutions will continue to hold the interest of BI professionals.

Another advantage that I see in cloud-based BI solutions is the freedom which analysts can now enjoy. Until now, IT management has always focused on production and bottom line. Competition for resources with operations usually means that BI takes backseat. But no longer. The BI team can now go ahead and execute their programs without hindering operations. The processing power required to acquire, process and transform raw data into usable intelligence can be formidable. With cloud-based BI solutions, one can now command incredibly high, on-demand processing power.

One of the reasons for the significant decrease in implementation costs is because of the pay-per-use model. For instance, looking at GMO Cloud’s pricing model which not only offers a basic plan but also has additional resource pricing, an organization no longer needs to worry about purchasing resources that they might not need, and can focus only on those that are actually being used.

Experimenting with the cloud

Although more and more organizations are moving to the cloud, there are still some common apprehensions, like security, which have kept companies from committing entirely. In such instances, it is ideal for them to start exploring BI functions. Many CTOs would not allow BI to interfere with their production activities and there is a distinct compartmentalization between production and the development environment. Moving the development and BI functions to the cloud therefore makes sense.

Once the technical team becomes well-versed with the usage and power of cloud computing, then the entire operation can be migrated with confidence.

The cost of data warehousing

BI means loads and loads of data – both historical and current. The cost of storage for such big data can cause much worry among business managers. Cloud-based data storage can mitigate these issues. Another advantage I see here is the archiving of data. And with cloud storage one can achieve both objectives at a reasonable cost.


There are some matches which are made in heaven. The match between BI and the cloud is one such relationship. There is every reason to believe that the next couple of years will witness an exponential growth in use of cloud computing for BI and analytics.

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Our articles are written to provide you with tools and information to meet your IT and cloud solution needs. Join us on Facebook and Twitter.

About the Guest Author:

Sankarambadi SrinivasanSankarambadi Srinivasan, ‘Srini’, is a maverick writer, technopreneur,  geek and online marketing enthusiast rolled into one.  He began his career as a Naval weapon specialist. Later, he sold his maiden venture and became head of an offshore database administration company in Mumbai. He moved on as Chief Technology Officer of one of the largest online entities, where he led consolidation of 300 online servers and introduced several Web 2.0 initiatives. He holds a Master’s degree in Electronics and Telecommunication.

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This Week in the Cloud [February 22, 2013]

In case you missed it, here are a few notable stories posted on our GMO Cloud blog this past week. As always, you can follow us on Twitter or Facebook, or sign up for our newsletter updates here.

Why the Cloud is Great for Gaming

One of the latest trends in the gaming industry is the shift towards the cloud. While there is a lot of hype surrounding the term ‘Cloud’, practically every industry has significantly benefited from joining the cloud revolution, and the gaming industry is no exception.

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Application Development in the Cloud: Going Beyond Infrastructure as a Service

The cloud is changing the expectations of both those who use it to run businesses and those who use it as a development platform. We mentioned several times that software developers love the freedom that a cloud environment gives them because they can simulate any…

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Why the Asia Pacific is Eyeing the Hybrid Cloud

globe-asian-map-clouds-200x131IT infrastructure in the Asia Pacific market is steadily becoming overloaded. This is due to rapid growth in the region’s economy which has increased overall workload and demand that infrastructure. While Asia’s economic growth is obviously a good thing…

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3 Things You Need to Know Before Using the Cloud for Your Business


There is no question that cloud computing brings huge advantages to practically any business. There’s no need to ever buy a server and upgrading software is a breeze. In fact, there are many tech companies worth millions that do not have a single data center or server closet.

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3 Things You Need to Know Before Using the Cloud for Your Business

There is no question that cloud computing brings huge advantages to practically any business. There’s no need to ever buy a server and upgrading software is a breeze. In fact, there are many tech companies worth millions of dollars that do not have a single data center or server closet. This is particularly true in the fast-growing Asian cloud market. But for all its benefits, the cloud isn’t magical – and many of its supposed disadvantages arise from when users lack some basic information. These are the three main factors to consider before implementing the cloud for your business.

This may spring from the democratization that comes with the cloud. Although the technology provides end users with access to powerful tools, it also means that general users without technical skills are often charged with decisions without a clear understanding of what cloud technology can and cannot do. It is important to note that this can cost a company a lot of money in the long run.

I’d like to look at some misconceptions many users have about cloud technology, in the interests of illustrating what you need to know before implementing cloud technology initiatives in your business.

Specify how data is deleted/purged from the system.

One of the most common uses for cloud technology is to back up critical data and help companies guard against a potential disaster. Most cloud vendors can provide these services at a low cost and have optimized their technology to ensure that data will always be saved at a secure location and that it can be recovered quickly and effectively. However, making sure that data is deleted or purged properly is not high on the list of concerns for most cloud technology vendors. While this is great if you need to access older data that was lost or deleted by mistake, it can be a security concern. Take for example, GMO Cloud, they along with their cloud infrastructure services, they offer a plausible security solution that protects data from breaches, downtime, loss or any disaster.

Remember, when you delete a record that is stored on the cloud, you have no guarantee that every single version of that record has been deleted as well. This can be a problem if your company ever goes through a legal process with opposing forensic experts going through data that was thought to have been purged from the system. To prevent this from happening, it is important to make sure that you have a clear policy regarding data deletion from the cloud and that management of sensitive data is handled specifically.

Dedicate staff to handle data in the cloud.

Many companies make the mistake of putting all of their data in the hands of a cloud vendor and not hiring IT staff at all. After all, paying for the service ensures that your data is handled by a professional. However, companies should always have an analyst or administrator on hand to manage such data, thus removing many of the problems regularly encountered.

The role of the dedicated staff member would be to simply determine what goes to the cloud and what doesn’t. This person would also be in charge of organizing the data into logical directory trees and divisions with smart naming conventions, handling cross-system data operations, and establishing clear guidelines for back-ups and any other cloud operations. Even if one of the main reasons you have implemented cloud technology is to save on staff, you will always want someone reserved for this role. Establish a dedicated position or rotate existing staff into the job on a regular basis.

Manage your cloud as you would manage IT.

Although the higher ups in a business will tout cloud technology as a cost saving measure that solves an IT overhead problem, the fact is that the cloud is only effective if you manage it as an external IT component. This allows a company to take full advantage of the cloud’s unique capabilities, such as creating custom code, integrating with other data sources, and creating customized reports, dashboards, and other components.

Be Part of Our Cloud Conversation

Our articles are written to provide you with tools and information to meet your IT and cloud solution needs. Join us on Facebook and Twitter.

About the Guest Author:

Nida Rasheed

Nida Rasheed is a freelance writer and owner of an outsourcing company, Nida often finds herself wanting to write about the subjects that are closest to her heart. She lives in Islamabad, Pakistan and can be found on Twitter @nidarasheed

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