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Cloudy Daze

There has been a recent uptick in the movement toward and the hype about cloud computing. The federal government’s embrace of cloud computing with its apps.gov store for agencies to easily obtain cloud computing resources is, perhaps, the most visible.

A couple of recent articles provide context and realism to the hyperbole.

  • Legal Implications of Cloud Computing – Part One (the Basics and Framing the Issues), By David Navetta, InfoSecCompliance Blog (September 12, 2009). (Also available on LLRX).

    Bottom line: this is not your father’s outsourcing relationship, and trying to protect clients with contracts may be very difficult or impossible unless the cloud computing community begins to build standards and processes to create trust.

    …there is going to be incredible financial pressure on organizations to take advantage of the pricing and efficiency of cloud computing and if attorneys fail to understand the issues ahead of time there is a serious risk of getting “bulldozed” into cloud computing arrangements without time or resources to address some serious legal issues that are implicated.

  • Demystifying Cloud Computing for Higher Education, by Richard N. Katz, Philip J. Goldstein, and Ronald Yanosky, ECAR Research Bulletin, Volume 2009, Issue 19 (September 22, 2009) [membership required].

    Public clouds are profit-driven and are most effective with those services that are highly commodified. If an IT service can be offered in a standardized fashion without special regard to end user variations, or to local, state, regional, or even national regulatory differences, then that service can be offered as an undifferentiated commodity service—presumably at a great price. In such a case, the dominant legal principle is likely to be caveat emptor—buyer beware—backed by standard contract language shielding the provider from any significant liabilities for process failures or data corruption and loss.

    …The challenges and risks that will constrain higher education’s adoption of cloud computing relate to trust, confidence, and surety.

    …Notwithstanding the near unanimous belief that cloud computing is an important enabler of a fundamental shift in the organization and economics in enterprise IT, the (non-hyperbolic) literature and the discussion with community leaders also make clear that at present the topic is mired in hype and near-utopian optimism.

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