The third in our series of #FirstThing at First Option was certainly a contrast with the first (mobile apps) event in January when snow lay outside preventing a few guests from arriving. This time the air conditioning was on, shirt sleeves and strawberries were the order of the day and it had been broad daylight for at least three hours.

Twenty guests from local businesses and organisations gathered to learn more about the Cloud: what it is, how it works and – importantly – how to overcome the fears that new users have.

The session split naturally into three sections: the first was a 30 minute presentation on Cloud Computing itself by Matt Clarke, MD of First Option Software. He covered the growth in cloud, the business benefits – eg cost, flexibility and ease of use – and some of the issues such as the importance of good connectivity and the topical thorn that is security.

This led naturally to the next section on security, encryption and password strength, presented by Matt Fellows, Senior Developer at FOS. There were a few worried faces during this session, as we were made aware of the ease at which hackers can crack passwords and get hold of our data; but he also gave the guests some sound advice about keeping their passwords long, complicated and their data safe.

A couple of guests from industry were invited to join us on the sofa for a Q&A session – joining Matt Clarke and Matt Fellows were Carol Geddes, Director of Communications at Barton Peveril College and David Blundell of 100 Percent IT who supply secure Cloud based server solutions to business and academia.

Questions raised by presenter David Cradduck covered top tips for keeping data safe in the Cloud, education establishments’ protocol for looking after sensitive personal data, and how suppliers like 100 Percent IT win the trust of their clients.

The next #FirstThing event is scheduled for September 25th when the topic will be ‘Girls in IT – or rather the lack of them’. More information to follow.