Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Ribbon (Cloud) of Darkness Over Me

Previously, I have expressed serious doubts about the move toward the Cloud. My doubts have recently been expressed by Steve Wozniak, which given my peon status and his icon/legend status, suddenly lends credence to our skepticism.

Mr. Wozniak points out something that had not previously occurred to me, the ownership of clouded data. Although I pretend that I keep up with jurisprudential rulings, they come too fast and furious for any mere mortal to stay abreast, and secondly, I am at best a jailhouse lawyer rather than one upon whose opinion you should risk your future, unless of course you're already in jail, in which case you probably lack the funds for someone more educated than I... but that is another story.

My initial doubts about Cloud technology lay in my fear that any given Cloud site could be compromised, and that all my confidential documents regarding the impending release of my Next Killer App could be read  by unauthorized persons. But now my doubts have increased exponentially: suppose that my CSP (Cloud Service Provider) gets compromised to the point of a total system failure. Then my alleged ability to connect to documents of interest from my tablet, my desktop, etc. are suddenly all dead at once, and I am forked! The PowerPoint presentation due to present at 9:05am tomorrow is totally compromised. The transactional database that I promised my client 24/7 is now hosed, costing us $750k an hour. The nuclear-facility management system that I promised is now down, thanks to some third-world criminals or even local criminals with some misguided mission to deliver us from Evil. An entire power-grid goes down, affecting 24 states in the USA and the most significant two provinces in Canada, and perhaps London, England and its attendant stock markets.

To the extent that we bet on Cloud technologies, we risk everything. That is my conclusion, and it has been so for a couple of years. I'm happy to welcome the most esteemed Mr. Wozniak into the fold of skeptics, and much more important, I pray that some people in positions of influence shall listen to us.

All this is not to say that Clouds are by definition bad. Au contraire: we just need to step up and realize that any given cloud could die in a minute, and that the other Clouds need to be able to step up and recover from this disaster. However, given that the Cloud-folks are still in the competitive mode of marketing, as opposed to the next step (utilities), I expect them to be unwilling to protect each other's assets, which reduces to You and Me. They are in it for themselves, not for You and Me. That's how capitalism works, and this ultimately is why I do not yet trust Cloud technologies.

What I would want to know from any Cloud vendor is this:

1. What happens to my data is your entire site gets compromised?
2. How secure is my data from illegal penetration?
3. Can I sue you for loss of any data that my firm deems highly confidential and proprietary?
4. Does my uploading of my data mean that you own it, or does it remain mine/and/or my company's?

In the absence of excellent answers to these questions, there is no way I would do a deal with the given cloud player of interest.

Call me pessimist. An optimist says that this is the best of all possible worlds.
A pessimist agrees.

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