The Cloud Gets A Good Kicking – And Maybe Deservedly So!

A recent post by the excellent Louise Kidney on her A Shiny World blog got me thinking about how we approach data security and ownership. Lou’s post was triggered by the planned closure of web bookmarking service Delicious by Yahoo and she wrote:

“Yahoo! bought Delicious. Now, it transpires, it is in on their hit list, or rather their ‘sunset’ list. Details are emerging that this might mean it’s on it’s asset sell list, but there’s no guarantees anyone will buy it. So, at the flick of a switch in a remote server farm somewhere over in America, someone will cut my connection to my bookmark list.

”I have no comeback. No legal grounds to demand the switch is flicked back. I can export my bookmarks to somewhere else, another service, but those services don’t seem to be quite the same. I put them with delicious for a reason, it was a good service. But I assume a loss making service, and so it’s on the switch off list.”

I commented: “As you point out the C words cloud computing relies heavily on the T word – trust a commodity that is understandably in short supply to those companies that are thinking of trusting their precious data. This is one of the reasons the hybrid cloud, where companies store their information on servers for which they have direct responsibility is looking very attractive. You only have to look at how many cloud based services are piggy backed onto the likes of Amazon and consider what happens when malodorous solids hit rotating blades then you may think that the whole cloud ethos is skating on very thin ice.

”But it is early days. After all we rely on utility companies to supply us with the likes of water, electricity, telecoms, gas etc and we don’t start digging wells and whacking up unsightly wind turbines do we?”

Lou’s thought provoking retort was: “Nope, understood completely. But the gas company don’t hold my life to ransom for the supply of that gas. IPR is a really really big issue for us and should be for other companies too. What happens, say, if I map grit bins on Google maps and Google, at some point in the future, decide to charge everyone for access to those maps? I can’t do anything about it.

“I’d go map it somewhere else, obviously, but with the grasp on the market Google currently has, there’s a possibility some people would be silly enough to pay for that access…… Free is not free. Or rather, it is, but at a price.”

I recommend that you read Lou’s post – and bookmark the site for future reference, though obviously not on Delicious – and leave your comments on the vexed question of data ownership because it is core to the future of how we work webside. You can also follow Lou on Twitter at @loulouk.

Kevin Tea is a journalist and marketing communications professional who has worked for some of the leading blue chip companies in the UK and Europe. In the 1990s he became interested in how emerging Internet-based technologies could change the way that people worked and became an administrator on the Telework Europa Forum on CompuServe. With other colleagues he took part in a four year European Commission sponsored project to look at the way that the Internet could benefit remote communities. His blog is a resource for SMEs who want to use cloud computing and Web 2.0 technologies.