Is Cloud Computing a Wild West Show?

  • 1

Cloud Computing Western Round-up:

The wild west of cloud computingIs ‘the cloud’ a wild west show?

It has become popular among some tech and industry pundits, of late, to refer to cloud computing as being still in a ‘wild west’ era of technological and legal integration. We examine the arena with help from experts on both sides of the aisle.

“The term cloud [computing] implies something nebulous, and at least when this technology gets hyped by providers, that definition seems to apply. Google, Microsoft, Dell, and other big names all seem to have a slightly different interpretation of not only what the cloud is, but how it should work,” writes Doug Bonderud at Tech journal

At its core, nevertheless, the cloud is not so nebulous:  Instead of one server hosting data in your office, it’s one or a multitude of servers — all earth bound despite the metaphor, residing elsewhere on the planet, and constantly backing up all data stored.  The ‘trouble’ with this model, according to a Christian Science Monitor article, is the “Wild West” aspect — the mishmash of regulations governing data use, access, and privacy that exist at present, because there are no single standard governing laws.

Cowboy Cloud Computing in the “Wild West” of Digital Legal Standards

While the cloud has managed to embed itself in the consumer consciousness, legal jargon has not been so quick to catch up with the ways providers do business and companies store their data. The result? A kind of “Wild West” of digital legal standards and cowboy cloud computing that often leaves midsize IT wondering who’s the sheriff, who are the bad guys, and whether there really is a man on a silver horse coming to save them.  MORE

The Wild West Era of Cloud Computing

Well, the fact of the matter is that this is still a very embryonic movement and it’s still something of a Wild West show. And by that, I mean, while these services are becoming more and more stable, and more and more secure. They’re still are a fair number of outages and they still is concern about security although there hasn’t been any infringement or infraction as far as that’s concerned. But because it’s still a relatively new business, of course, IT and business decision makers are justified in having some concerns around security and reliability as well as compliance and governance.  MORE

Cloud computing is like the ‘Wild West’

We talk about cloud computing as if the bits and bytes of our lives are stored somewhere up in the air, but, really, the “clouds” are terrestrial. What’s more up in the air are the laws that govern who can access your stuff and how.  MORE

Cloud computing may be described in multiple divergent ways, depending on whom you ask. In some regard, even common email demonstrates a form of cloud computing. (It actually resides on a server ‘up there somewhere’ and is delivered to wherever we request it.)

“The problem that cloud computing has, more generally, is that [the real world] assumes that rights are based geographically,” says Mark Radcliffe, senior partner at law firm DLA Piper, quoted recently in the LA Times. “That assumption is not realistic in the cloud.”

What? Well, do you know where the cloud computing servers really exist physically and legally? They could be in North America, governed by U.S. laws.  Or maybe across the Atlantic in London, where there are markedly different privacy rules. Regardless of where the cloud computing company is based, the geographical location of the physical computer servers adds to the determination of ultimate privacy rules.

“Several Cloud9 Real Time competitors actually house their servers offshore in locales like India, Bangladesh, and such,” emphasizes Cloud9 executive VP Kacee Johnson.

So yes, given that data security is a primary issue with most new shoppers of cloud computing services, application hosting, desktop virtualization, and the like, one area of critical wild west concern is underscored: Where is YOUR cloud computing company located and where are their servers?

Next week: Wild West part 2 – How Safe Is Our Data, Really?


Sarah Gardiner

All stories by: Sarah Gardiner