Sunday, January 9, 2011

Make sure it's not too CLOUDy...

This post addresses some of the concerns that companies might have when dealing with cloud services in general, specifically when dealing with sensitive data in a hosted environment. Where cloud computing in intended to increase the quality of service, the quality of "privacy" is not a generally recognized factor when services are hosted. The environment naturally protects its applications because that's what the hosting environments provide.

With cloud computing, the deal changes with respect to traditional hosted services in ie. a colocated hosting environment for which you know where it is hosted. When services are hosted in a cloud, ie. the service's storage resource is hosted in redundant locations, you can not be sure with a (public) cloud where a service or its resources are hosted. In fact, some of the more innovative cloud service providers have dynamically hosted resources in 'cooler' locations on the planet to save cost by requiring less power for cooling. This means that the services are hosted across multiple continents and in many countries, which naturally leads to the conclusion: what happens with my customer data, what happens with my client data?

Businesses or governments storing data in a cloud may inherently be exposing the data into countries which have different privacy policies or legislation than required for their purpose. For example, if data of a European company is stored outside the European Union, which means that data of customers may not be protected by the privacy laws of Europe.

In the example, a cloud consumer should stick to cloud providers for which he knows the privacy policy, and for which the hosting environments are only located in Europe. Alternatively a cloud consumer should build a private cloud or use a community cloud which has controlled access.

Similar approaches apply for different reasons and for different countries, but the essence stays the same: make sure it's not too cloudy...

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