World's top tech fair opens under a cloud

The world's biggest IT fair opened Tuesday amid concerns over the security of its featured technology - cloud computing - after some 150,000 Google email accounts vanished into the ether.

The theme of this year's CeBIT expo in Hanover, northern Germany, is "Work and Life with the Cloud" and "cloud computing," or the idea of storing data online rather than on individual machines, is the fair's undisputed buzzword.

"Cloud computing is the mega-trend in the high-tech sector. It is going to change the IT sector completely," said August-Wilhelm Scheer, president of BITKOM, which represents the technology sector in Germany.

"Many people are using cloud computing without even knowing it," he added, citing a BITKOM survey showing only one in eight people knew what the term meant, despite being avid users already.

Turnover in the cloud computing sector in Germany is expected to rise by around 55 percent this year and, growing at a breakneck pace, represent some 10 percent of the overall IT market by 2015, according to BITKOM.

Scheer cited the example of people posting holiday snaps on social networking site Facebook, playing online video games or signing up for an Internet dating website.

Cloud computing users are effectively storing their data on gigantic servers somewhere in the world, linked by Internet, rather than saving them physically on their own computer's hard drive.

The advantages for business are clear - no need to build and maintain costly IT centres for data storage.

Partly for this reason, BITKOM estimates the sector will grow from 1.1 billion euros ($1.5 billion) in 2010 to 8.2 billion euros in 2015.

But the disadvantage is that users can be powerless when things go wrong.

In an unfortunate piece of timing for the CeBIT, Google admitted it had temporarily lost 150,000 email accounts - through which users can store documents and photos online - due to a technical glitch at the weekend.

While this represents a tiny fraction - 0.08 percent says Google - of overall global users of the service, it is still a "small setback" for cloud computing, said Carlo Velten from Experton, an advisory firm.

"It's the first time this has happened on this scale," he told AFP.

Germans, who already jealously guard their personal data after years of being snooped on first by the Nazis and then by the communist secret service, appear to be especially sceptical, according to the BITKOM poll.

One in five said they would not use cloud computing services due to fears over a lack of data protection and 21 percent are scared their data would get lost.

Overall, more than half of Germans surveyed thought their data were "not safe" on the Internet, compared to 40 percent who believed them secure.

Scheer said it was in the own interest of firms offering cloud computing services to "take these concerns seriously and address the security loopholes.

"We know that people make safe cars, safe machines and safe medical equipment. Why should we doubt that the cloud is also safe?"

Seeking to play down the security fears, he added - "Of course, you could imagine an attack, a plane that destroys a server."

"But that is the same for power plants that produce electricity and that doesn't mean that every company has a generator in its basement," he said.

More than 4,200 tech firms from 70 countries are expected to attend this year's CeBIT with many of the big names that stayed away during the global financial crisis returning.

Google, IBM, SAP, Microsoft, HP and Dell are among the top companies setting up their stalls for the event, which runs until March 5 with Turkey as this year's "partner country."

The event was officially launched on Monday evening by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    SQL Developer (TSQL, SSRS, SSAS) Fund Manager - London

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer (TSQL, S...

    Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, Angular.JS)

    Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, An...

    Front-End UI/UX Developer (HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Ang

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End UI/U...

    Helpdesk Team Leader / Manager

    £45000 per annum + pension,medical: Ashdown Group: A successful & reputable gl...

    Day In a Page

    All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
    What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

    What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

    Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
    Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

    Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

    Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
    Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

    Radio 1’s new top ten

    The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
    Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

    Florence Knight's perfect picnic

    Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
    Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

    Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

    The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
    Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

    Mark Hix's summery soups

    Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
    Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

    Tim Sherwood column

    I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
    Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

    Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

    The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition