Cloudy forecast

Bavo De Ridder has this interesting take on Cloud Computing:

Cloud computing is cool, no doubt about that. There have never been more good looking and futuristic looking schematics been made in Visio. Thousands of presentations, workshops and even conferences have been held on the subject.

One question however has not be clearly answered yet … what about data ownership? What about privacy of that data? When your applications are running in the cloud you are also handing over your data to whoever is running the data center. How sure are you that they protect this data as they should do?

Bavo does point out some valid concerns. But I feel he goes too far when he links these concerns to the recent Microsoft Live TOS change:

Your cloud partner decides to disable a feature in their application, a feature you depend on. Does your disaster recovery plan takes this into account? This is not far fetched, in a small way this is what happened when Microsoft decided to disable anonymous comments on their Live Blog. They even did this retroactively and so revealed identity information of authors who previously had been anonymous.

While the Microsoft Live situation was a disaster for the users that had an expectation of continued privacy, there is an important distinction, namely the Golden Rule. No doubt the TOS for Microsoft Live, like all free services, are very one sided. For most free services you get the service for, well free, on whatever terms the provider dictates and you are, again, free to take your non-money elsewhere if you aren’t happy.

Commercial service providers typically provide a much different kind of contract with their paying customers. Such contracts would dictate under what conditions features could be added or removed. And there is a strong financial motivation to keep the customers happy.

Of course Bavo’s points about your provider going under or being acquired are quite valid.

Still it all comes down to risk. Successful companies don’t avoid risk. They balance risk against reward. If the cost savings with moving to Cloud Computing makes these risks acceptable then companies will consider doing it.

After all, are these risks so different from what companies take on when they contract with any provider, from payroll down to cleaning services?

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