Quick Study

By Brian Robinson

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Cloud computing and the disaster in waiting

There’s nothing like a disaster story to get the headlines whirring on just about anything else, and the fairly mundane subject of cloud computing -- all the current hype aside -- is apparently no different. Some industry watchers now warn that the IT industry’s own Deepwater Horizon event is just around the corner.

An Ars Technica writer recently spoke to various industry sages who talked about how, at some point, there will be a major breach of security or act of terrorism involving the cloud that will cause everyone in industry and government to engage in a massive rethink of the worth of the cloud.

Of course, whether the oil spill disaster in the Gulf ends up causing anything more than a momentary blip in offshore drilling is an open question, given all the money and political capital invested in the issue. Cloud computing isn’t exactly in the same league, but it’s arguable that the tipping point about the move to the cloud has already been reached, so how badly such IT-based disasters would affect that is questionable.

However, there’s no doubt that security and privacy are among the strongest of the potential show stoppers for the cloud. A recent Pew Internet survey (http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/The-future-of-cloud-computing.aspx) said as much, as did an IDC survey. Those worries tend to outweigh the perceived benefits of the cloud, at least for now.

Then again, you could take the attitude that the current frenzy over cloud computing is just the result of clever marketing. According to a story in Internet Evolution, at least, cloud computing is really nothing more than a fancy term for the good old client/server link. At the end of the day, according to the author Gideon Lenkey, “you’re using a software client to access data on a server, a machine in a rack, across a network.”

Instead of worrying about the security of the cloud, he says, just focus on worrying about security, period. No matter what name you give to today’s favored IT flavor, that problem never seems to go away.


Posted by Brian Robinson on Jun 24, 2010 at 9:03 AM

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