Posted by: Paul | 08/11/2009

Upcoming Economist.com Debate : "This house believes that the cloud can’t be entirely trusted. " – Microsoft vs Salesforce.com

This upcoming Economist.com debate should be very interesting, with Microsoft defending the motion and Salesforce.com against the motion.

When it comes to cloud computing, concerns around security are probably one of the biggest challenges to its adoption that exists today.

Much of this is due to aspects such as a lack of modern standards specific to SaaS/Cloud services as well as overall education in the market (or tools to educate folks) are probably the two most significant issues today in my view, plus there also maybe another possible issue in the near future as the folks “rush-to- market” as part of the cloud “gold rush” and deliver a cloud offering that maybe not be ready yet.

While there are efforts in place to flesh out some solutions to these at the technology level, there are some other aspects that I currently believe will be more tricky to tease out, such as the contractual issues around SLA’s and legal issues surrounding data in the SaaS/Cloud services space.

While not all data is created equally, in general data that exists inside the firewall may not raise certain concerns, but there maybe commercial or legal requirements that may not be foreseen when moving data outside of the firewall and into the cloud. Recently [via a posting on the Irish Cloud Computing group on Linkedin.com] I came across this excellent article that frames some of the legal aspects that may need to be thought though for certain scenarios, certain businesses and certain types of data, see link.

Right now, there are no easy answers for some of these concerns and I think it is safe to say that understanding the target scenarios is very important. It certainly does not help that Cloud providers at the moment are like snowflakes and no two are alike. Today this makes like-for—like comparisons very difficult, but as the space matures I believe we can expect some new standards and practices to form that will be common place and widely adopted in the industry.

In the meantime, having specific debates like this are a big step in the right direction and helps everyone to understand how the industry is going to address these concerns – as cloud computing is still very much in its infancy and as it matures it will be better able to cater for an ever boarder set of scenarios.

/Paul

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