Another elephant in the Cloud

Experienced professionals don’t need Machiavelli to point out that introducing change is difficult, not just from a technical perspective but also from a political or legal one. Outsourcing and off-shoring are especially challenging. Cloud computing is the latest frontier for the ambitious pioneer. And it offers plenty of scope for real or imaginary show-stoppers.

The latest scare is state-sponsored espionage. POLITICO, a US political journal, reports that the Obama administration is engaging in diplomatic talks around the world to put to rest fears in foreign capitals about government authorities gaining access to data held by service providers under the PATRIOT Act.

Some potential customers will be deterred by this risk. Others will be happy to accept government assurances. And many will dismiss the thought as merely a spot of fear, uncertainty and doubt put about by jealous rivals. But how paranoid should we be about the threat of government eavesdropping? The answer is that it’s impossible to eliminate the risk.

If you’re really concerned about such foreign espionage, you should also be picky about the sourcing of your technology, your employees and the contractors you use. For absolute safety, you might consider avoiding email altogether and perhaps disconnecting your systems from the Internet.

In practice it’s easier to ignore the elephant in the room. That approach enables you to take advantage of huge savings from offshore technology, staff and services. Sometimes too much knowledge can be a hindrance to progress.

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