Posted by: nickgerlich | July 1, 2008

In The Clouds

I know it is never fun when someone like a parent or professor gets to tell you, “I told you so.” But I did tell my students. And for the most part, they thought I was nuts.

Every once in a while, though, we are right.

To wit: Since last fall I have been singing the praises of data clouds, which are basically 24/7 accessible secure servers in which anyone can store important documents. These range from your tax returns to collaborative documents like research papers with peers. Many of my students scoffed at the idea of cloud computing, especially in this era of identity theft.

Yet most of my students still practiced it by using Google Docs or a similar wiki-type site for writing their papers and exam replies.

CloudSo I ciouldn’t help but smile last night while scanning my email. Among the usual spam was an announcement from Wells Fargo stating that there rumored vSafe, a virtual safe deposit box for your documents. Depending on the size of your “box,” monthly fees will range from $5-15.

Critics can still scoff that nothing is ever really secure. But then I hope they never use a credit card at a restaurant or give their Visa number to a stranger over the phone.

While Wells Fargo is in the banking business, and not known for computing services, the vSafe actually makes a lot of sense. After all, banks sell security, and safe deposit boxes are one of their security offerings. What difference does it make if the safe deposit box is online?

Cloud computing is changing the way we live as well as choose our banks. I suspect the monthly fees will drop once competing banks join the market with similar services. And with other non-bank providers like Carbonite, the competition will no doubt become intense.

Kudos to WF for seizing the moment to extend their banking domain into document security. It’s not just about keeping someone from stealing your docs, but also preserving them in the event of fire (which, after all, is an important reason why we have safe deposit boxes). This is no pie-in-the-sky idea.

Dr “Mostly Cloudy” Gerlich



  1. This development is inevitable. Companies have been pushing you for years to go online with your statements eg bank statements and other financial/investment records. And whilst a portion of the community has gone this way, companies have never given you some security should your computer fail and you lose it all. Your only options would be to contact them and request new copies at a fee.

    Services like Carbonite are ideal for this. Over time large financial institutions will catch on and look to partner with similar providers.

  2. […] morning I read a blog by Dr “Mostly Cloudy” Gerlich. He talks about Wells Fargo (large fin inst in US) offering its clients an online safety deposit […]

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