Cloud Computing

Security Imperative for Cloud Computing

The recent New York Times article, Is Our Data Too Vulnerable in the Cloud?, points out the real concerns and risks of our storing all our data in "the Cloud". While some of the commenters point out that many of these security concerns apply as well to data stored on enterprise servers, laptops, and desktops -- the perceptions and fears are real.  Any further hiccups in cloud computing can set back the growth of these services, as a result of low user confidence. As evidence consider how many people we all know still fear paying bills by internet. What is needed  is for cloud computing service providers to display the equivalent of a "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" to certify their data security is up to the standards of the best enterprises.  This will help consumers and CIOs feel more comfortable leaving their data in the cloud. To be effective this certification needs to address network and physical security, and also needs to apply global standards to meet the different needs of different jurisdictions.  For example the theory of cloud computing is that we should not care where in the world our data is stored; but EU enterprises have stricter privacy rules than many others and need to know their data security is up to EU standards regardless where it resides. Who will provide this certification? Perhaps auditors? Perhaps anew entity that creates a trusted brand? Someone ought to. Soon.
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Viva Data Liberation Front!

I am often amazed by how much Google understands and practices good business logic.  The latest is their support for the Data Liberation Front.  This is a group of employees dedicated to "Users should be able to control the data they store in any of Google's products.  Our team's goal is to make it easier to move data in and out." There is much evidence that Google wants to be leaders in cloud computing.  And they seem to realize that cloud computing is attractive only if it is possible to make our data portable, cost effectively, and easily.  The old web strategy of trying to create "Stickiness" usually involved having customers invest much time and effort to add their own data and meta data, and thus make it difficult for them to move.  But instead, Google has realized that many people might be reluctant to invest themselves totally in cloud computing (such as in Google Apps) if it is difficult to get their data out somewhere down the road and move to another service.  Fixing this increases the trust level. I wholeheartedly support this approach.  I have found myself checking on several cloud computing sites (PBWorks and Evernote to name two) and have invested in their use only when I saw I could get my data out in some common format -- such as XML files. Good for Google!  May this initiative set a standard for others to follow.  And may it help cement Google's leadership.
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