Dell outlines its future vision of the Cloud


Cloud computing from Dell has been a mouth-watering prospect for tech geeks for a few years now. It is viewed by many as next wave of information technology for individuals, companies and governments. It is also seen as the biggest revolution in how we share information electronically since the birth of the internet.

So, just what can be achieved with all this extra storage space? How can businesses benefit going forward and what can we expect from it in the future? The Cloud World Forum was held in London recently where all this and more filled the agenda. To get a flavour of what was being discussed check out Dell’s video to hear industry leaders give their views.

One thing that is not in dispute is that the cloud’s popularity is all set to grow both in business and in our day-to-day lives. Here are some of the ways we can expect it to shape the future and improve our day to day lives.

Improve education

Classrooms are already embracing the cloud and its many benefits. It allows students to access data anywhere and anytime to participate in group activities and makes it easier to enrol for classes online or for other organisational programs needed for school.

Computing will become invisible

Pretty soon computers and software will become “invisible” in that they are hidden from view. We may simply have to make gestures and a camera will interpret those and provide us what we need, or we simply have to say it. If all this seems a bit James Bond, the capabilities of cloud computing make it a realistic ambition in the not too distant future.

Gaming will become popular with everyone

The cloud offers to enhance all areas of technology and none more so than in gaming. Gamers have been marvelling at demos with complex 3-D graphics delivered to mobile devices through the cloud. While some technical wrinkles remain, players can now enjoy breathtaking gaming experiences anywhere because of the cloud’s power to provide higher speed without interruption.

Improve decision making

The cloud allows you to process large amounts of data from just about anywhere, even just with the use of a Smartphone. You can combine data and streams of information to inform your decisions, research any topic and make smarter decisions with your analysed data.

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Yuilop UK Launches Free Cloud-Based Mobile Numbers


When Skype was launched a decade ago, it heralded a new concept in mobile communications. Now, its pioneering template of free internet-based conversations has been taken to another level by the launch of yuilop – a free cloud-based communications platform with truly global reach.

Operated through a downloadable app for iOS, Android, Windows and BlackBerry devices, yuilop enables people to send and receive free calls and messages, across 3G, 4G, LTE or Wi-Fi. Once the app is installed, users are allocated a dedicated mobile phone number starting with the conventional 07 prefix. Because yuilop utilises the Public Switched Telephone Network, this effectively establishes a fully functioning mobile account without requiring a handset or contract. Calls and texts can be made and received from phones, tablets and even iPods, sharing the same number on multiple devices, with no roaming charges while travelling.

Unusually, it isn’t necessary for the recipient of a call or message to be a yuilop customer as well, although a system of credits provides additional incentives over and above the primary benefit of avoiding usage charges. These credits are earned for activities including receiving calls or text messages, introducing other users to the platform, watching ads or downloading promotions. Indeed, the yuilop system works best when all parties are subscribed, with the ability to supplement straightforward calls and texts with group messaging functionality. The app itself is straightforward to use, with a clear interface and few extraneous options, and it can also handle the distribution of photographs and emoji.

It is worth noting that yuilop has been designed to be portable – it can’t be installed on desktop computers, whereas rivals like Viber are PC and Mac compatible. It is, however, far more flexible than Facebook Messenger, which is essentially a BBM competitor. Similarly, the widely-admired WhatsApp is entirely message-based, whereas yuilop can handle calls as well. As for the undisputed market leader, Skype, although calls are free to other Skype users, there are charges for text messages, landline/mobile calls and obtaining a unique number. However, while yuilop offers all these services for free, it does lack Skype’s desktop/laptop functionality.

Founded in Barcelona three years ago, and described by its founders as a “mobile phone in the cloud”, yuilop already has five million users across over 200 countries, with ambitious plans for further expansion in future. It can be downloaded for free at your phone or mobile device’s app store.

Connected Data’s Transporter: Off-Cloud Social Storage


There’s a lot to be said for the magic of the modern age. At the touch of a button everything I say or do can be transmitted across the world to an audiences of tens. And “cloud” storage has created an impressive array of possibilities for people or small businesses who want to access all sort of information at any point in time, anywhere. Although as Louis CK [link] likes to point out, “Cloud” is a euphemism for “big building with no windows and lots of security guards posted outside”. The amount of personal data we willing beam off into space and entrust into the hands of faceless corporate giants is insane. If I had to write down on paper all the things I send to Apple and Google on a daily basis I’d have some *serious* reservations. If I ever got movie amnesia I’m pretty sure Apple, Google and Facebook could tell me exactly who I am, in harrowing detail. Then again I like being able to share my data with friends and family. And have things like photos and documents backed up seems like the commonest of common sense in this digital age. So what is a boy to do? Enter Transporter.

The Transporter is an off-cloud social storage drive for privacy sharing, accessing and protecting one’s files. There are already a host of drives that enable shared storage – QNAP for example do an amazingly comprehensive NAS. But the Transport is built with regular people in mind, with usage more in line with day to day social sharing – not just the needs of a small business’s IT department.

The key feature of Transport is that you own and control all the data that is stored on the device – making it your own private cloud. Users can access files across the internet and the Transport can quickly and easily make contact with other Transporter devices and users (saving many a headache). Because all the files are stored on the device and nowhere else, usage is 100% private – so you don’t have to worry about a sudden change in terms of service ala Instagram’s famous slip up.

The Transporter people also eager to point out that there are no recurring fees for the device. After you purchase a unit, you have the ability to share thousands of files with as many people as you like irregardless of size. All the magic of Dropbox with none of the restrictions. I do a lot of work with video and the ability to share huge HD files globally is a huge boon to productivity. You can also do this on a smaller scale with photos or confidential documents via connected folders. And because files aren’t in “the cloud” but secure hard drives you can circumvent regulatory prohibitions that can cause issues for certain professions.

If you’re an SME, you can also create secure Iron Mountain-style offsite backups by buying another Transporter, storing it in a secondary location and voila – changes on one device are automatically reflected on another. You can even hide and encrypt data on the remote backup.

Intrigued? Find out more at Connected Data. The Transporter w/ 2TB Drive is $399 with UK pricing expected later in the year.

Strato’s Hi-Drive: 5GB of free high security cloud storage

For storing files, the world is taking inspiration from England’s summer: it’s all about the Cloud. And while Yahoo!, Gmail and Hotmail rule cloud-based e-mail, YouTube is the King of cloud video, Flickr and Facebook champion cloud pictures, Dropbox is the only big name in cloud-based file storage. That’s something German-based Strato plan to change.


If you haven’t heard of Strato, it’s because they’ve mainly been focussed on the business market. Now, however, they’re turning that experience to the consumer side.

To get people interested in their new service, the company is offering 5GB of free storage via – over double that of Dropbox or Wuala.

The main selling point of Strato, however, is not the extra storage space – it’s the way the company stores your data. Everything is saved at two ISO2709-rated data centres – the same protection banks use to keep your money in their vaults.

The CO2-free server farm is based in Germany, which means that access to the data is protect via Germany’s strong data privacy laws – tougher than those found in the US.

In terms of usability, files can be added to Strato in four ways – web browser, e-mail, a mounted local drive and the Windows Phone 7 and Androids apps. An iPhone app has been created, although it’s currently stuck in the limbo that is Apple’s approval process.

One reason for this hold-up may be down to the Android app’s ability to open, send, share and even stream music and video files – if this was on iPhone, it might be a potential rival for Apple’s own cloudy plans.

Meanwhile on Windows Phone 7, the app is actually the first third-party application on the OS to allow cloud storage.

Like Dropbox, the service also comes with Backup Control, so you’ll be able to access different versions of saved files.

If you love the service, you can soon buy 100GB for €9.90/month, or 500GB for €29.90/month with multiple user accounts.

ExpenseMagic: Accountancy takes to the cloud

Self-employed? Run a small business? Or do you just have to track purchases for your job? If you’re generally frustrated by keeping track of your expenses, fret not, as there’s an app for that: ExpenseMagic.

Using the iPhone’s camera (or the iPad and iPod Touch), you take a picture of your expense receipts, which then transfer to ExpenseMagic’s servers in the cloud.


Once your photos are successfully stored in the app, you can then type-up your expenses yourself, or let ExpenseMagic’s team of trained bookmakers to do it for you.

It’s £2.99 for 20 transcriptions, so it’ll be worth it if your expenses are over about a tenner each, and if you wouldn’t bother otherwise.

A dashboard gives you an overview of what you’ve spent, claimed or had reimbursed, while a diary function lets you pin expenditure to events to remind you of what and when you spent money.

As the expenses are all stored online on ExpenseMagic’s servers, you’ll be able to access them from anywhere in the world – and add to them.

It spices things up by using the device’s GPS location to track what country you’re in to automatically choose the currency and convert it back to your own.

Once you’re done adding expenses, the app can export them into a spreadsheet format – either on the phone on via an internet interface.

To make claiming expenses even easier, you can set ExpenseMagic’s “Autoclaim” feature to send your expense claim automatically to your employer on your chosen day of the month.

This edition 2.1.1 – comes with a brand new reporting feature, allowing you to view expense trends easily with graphical reports. You can also use the filters in the app to search through expenses by date, currency, status, expense type, upload type and so on.

Since launch, the app reached number three in the iTunes Finance Apps category, topping 1,000 downloads a day. Check it out.

Blurb iOS app: Share your stories in an instant


One of the great things about all this technology we have at our fingertips is that we can share instantly with friends and family – maybe post up some pictures from a party, or share a video of a family event with relatives who couldn’t make it.

But sometimes all that uploading and fiddling about can be a bit of a pain. Enter Blurb, a mobile app that allows you to gather all your images, video and audio into one ‘story’, which can be posted on to your Facebook or Twitter account, emailed and put up on the Blurb site (you can choose to make your story private or public), all at the tap of a screen.

Blurb is best known for its book making service, which allows users to create and print their own books online. The makers have taken this one step forward into the online mobile arena with the advent of Blurb Mobile.

The app is really quick and simple to use – you choose to create a story, type in the title and you’re off. You can upload images from your existing library, or choose to take a still shot or video and automatically add that.

Then you can edit them – cropping, rotating, scaling and so on, and arrange them in the order you want – all really easy thanks to drag and drop. It is also possible to add geotagging, so the story can be linked to a map location.

Once you’re done, you can choose to add voice and text captions, and opt for one of seven colour themes (in the free app – more are available if you pay for the full version of the app).

What really impressed me about Blurb is its simplicity. One of the reasons I fail to put up images onto Facebook is that I never seem to have time to download images from my camera and the longer I leave it, the more of a mammoth task it becomes. Something like Blurb, which works quickly and easily, is a great advantage and I can envisage users getting really into ‘reportage’ mode and uploading stories every day.

The app is available for free for the iPhone, while an upgrade to the full version with extra functions is £1.19.

More on the app at

Wuala: Online DropBox competitor from LaCie

It’s always nice to have some competition, right Dropbox? Enter Wuala, by LaCie – an online file storage service that steers dangerously close to copying DropBox, but with added functionality and cheaper pricing. Read on for our comparison of the two services.

Images courtesy of Flickr user SarahSphar


It’s a score-draw in terms of functionality. Both products offer very light desktop software (DropBox especially so), packed with features. You can set a folder to automatically sync between devices (perfect if you have two computers and want access on both), with both services storing older versions of files for instant back-up.

You’ll also get deletion protection, so if you erase a file on your computer it’ll still exist online for a month.

Wuala has the added function of scheduled back-ups – for files you don’t want to sync, you can set a regular automatic back-up to ensure files are safe online.


If you’re a skinflint, tightwad or scrooge – you’ll do what we do and use the free option.  For this, DropBox takes the crown. You’ll get 2GB of free online storage, while Wuala only offers 1GB. DropBox also has a referral scheme that gives you an extra 250MB free for everyone you sign-up to the service (help me out here: up to a maximum of 8GB.


DropBox takes the lead here, too. iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry apps mean you can access your file locker from anywhere. Open, edit or upload files from anywhere. You can even send links to other users to allow them to access your files.

Wuala has iPhone and Android support with file opening, editing and uploading – but the Blackberry addition is lacking.


A category Wuala wins by $70/year. If you need 100GB of storage, Wuala will set you back $129 – DropBox will charge you $199. Ouch.  For 50GB, Wuala also comes out $20 cheaper.

Web Access

Both services offer web access – although Wuala uses Java to do it. They say this is for security reasons – and we’re sure it is – but it’s just a bit clunky.


Wuala has the better offering from paid online back-up. It’s cheaper and has back-up scheduling. Like LaCie’s external storage, if you need an affordable way of backing up files, this is it.

If you’re into sharing files, however, then you might want to head for DropBox – the community is bigger, and therefore it’s much easier to share files and folders. Just like Skype, there may be other services with some better functions, but size matters.

Mozy online back up by EMC

As the designated IT guy in my social circle I’ve had to say “… but you’ve backed everything up right??” more times than I care to remember. The first line of working with computers 101 and the mantra of IT support professionals , backing up your work should be second nature (case in point, I instinctively hit Cmd+S after typing that). But the good old days of saving files to a second floppy are long gone and – much like everything else in computing these days – the future lies in the cloud. It’s good to have all your documents and photos on a secondary hard drive in your study. It’s great to have them safely tucked away on a secure remote server hundreds of miles away.

Image courtesy of Flickr user prettyinprint

Every computer is vulnerable to failure and data loss, and every week 140,000 hard drives crash in the United States alone. The most common forms of failure and data loss are hard drive crash, theft, loss, viruses, natural disaster, and accidental deletion. So it’s an exploding market. Among many of the names jostling for attention in this space is Mozy. No small potatoes Mozy is the online backup service for more than one million consumers and 50,000 business customers and 25 petabytes of backups under management. Copies of backed up files are securely stored in world-class data centers, protecting them against data loss.

But do you want strangers fiddling with your files? Well probably not. Fortunately Mozy takes privacy quite seriously. MozyHome gives you the ability to select your data’s encryption method: a Mozy-generated key utilizing 448-bit Blowfish encryption or your own personal key utilizing 256-bit AES encryption.During the backup process, all files are first encrypted with 448-bit Blowfish or 256-bit AES locally your computer. These encrypted files are then sent via a 128-bit SSL connection—the same encryption used in online banking—to a world-class data center. All data centers are SAS70 certified with 24/7/365 on-site monitoring and security, state-of-the-art fire detection and suppression systems, redundant power distribution units, and seismic safeguards that can withstand a 7.5 magnitude earthquake. So y’know … whilst not fool proof (no system is) it’s reasonably safe.

Much like Apple’s Time Machine, there is an initial long, long back up period as all your digital gems are beamed into the cloud. However after this first use, the back ups are incremental and much much faster. Cool as Mozy is, it is not intended for file sharing, synchronization, or as an online hard drive. Use DropBox magic for that.

You can get a slice of Mozy goodness for free as Mozy offers consumers 2 GB of free online backup, with no credit card details needed and with no expiration on the service. 2GB is enough space to back up 300 photos, 200 music files, or 250,000 text e-mail files. It you have a bit more you’d like to digitally stash away there’s MozyHome, which costs £/€4.99 per month. Customers who purchase an annual contract pay £/€54.89 and are given one month of free service.

Check it out for free here