The Cloud – Heaven or Hell? – Part 1

Cloud computing is the HOT topic in IT Webinars, articles, and especially marketing. Most of all that is written and pitched talks to the benefits of going to the Cloud, mostly in terms of reduced costs. These reduced costs take the form of less money for hardware, software and the arms and legs needed to support it. And, looking at it from many angles, these benefits do accrue from using the Cloud. From what is said about the Cloud, one would think that it holds the transcendent features of a heaven on earth, a place where all those using the Cloud are as free from IT-related burdens as some heavenly being, where computing is bliss and systems’ worry is for those mere mortals who have not yet been sufficiently enlightened to embrace the Cloud.

As you might gather, I hold a somewhat contrary view; seeing the collateral damage from a data breach or botched litigation hold instills a bit of paranoia into your professional perspective. Accordingly, the Cloud in some respects is truly HOT, but more in terms of the opposite of heaven. What is HOT, but clearly not marketed let alone discussed, is the liability that arises from embracing the Cloud. Put another way, the Cloud is HOT and you will be burned when your Cloud provider experiences a data breach or fails to start or maintain a litigation hold. Ultimately, you will get as much support from the Cloud in terms of backstopping this type of potentially costly liability as a PII or HIPAA-loaded hard drive gets from the vapor of a real cloud, as it falls through the sky and bursts to bits as it impacts the reality of tera firma.

The devil is always in the details, and with the Cloud this is no different. I will continue this topic in a follow-on blog tomorrow, delving more deeply into its flaws.