Google received a sceptical reception from CIOs for its cloud computing services at the National Computing Centre's annual conference.
Robert Whiteside, regional head of enterprise at Google Europe, spent 30 minutes promoting the internet firm's commercial credentials and cloud computing services. But the presentation failed to convince many of the CIOs present of the benefits of cloud computing.
"Cloud computing comes down to trust. Do I trust you with my data? There are a lot of reasons not to trust big organisations in recent years. I need to have the confidence you are going to look after it. I just don't have that trust at the moment," said Dave Felstead, IS director at the Forestry Commission.
Whiteside replied that Google's customers are taken through a process of due diligence. Its services are independently verified, he said. Google signs confidentiality clauses with customers. And data its stored in US datacentres is protected from abuse by Safe Harbour agreements.
But John Shmelit, deputy IT director at Imperial College, said the college was worried about its intellectual property being stored in a US datacentre. "We have been looking at Google, but we don't know if our data would be safe because its an American company. Microsoft has a datacentre in Europe. That's the debate we are having internally."
Drew Cook, IS director of Staples UK, said he does trusts external organisations with his data, but does not know whether he could trust Google because he does not know enough about the organisation.
Bogusia Webb, head of service strategy for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, said she would not be happy sending sensitive data over the internet. "We won't be using cloud computing because we hold citizens' information. Until there is greater scientific evidence that there is tight security management on the internet we will not be doing it because we would be exposed."
Ian Butterworth, head of IT at Midland Heart, one of the UK's 10 largest housing associations, said the trust would not be using Google services yet, but probably would eventually. "There are a lot of things that need to be checked out and that takes diligence and time," he said.
Malcolm Moore, director of operations at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, said he liked Google's products, but had yet to be persuaded about the cloud. "I don't think [Google] is going to sell my data, but I just don't trust the web."
Felstead raised another reason for caution. "Cloud providers should get together and put together some sort of insurance policy so that if one of them goes under the others should pick up the pieces," he said.
Whiteside had told delegates that cloud services were three to five times cheaper than in-house IT and that they would remove the stresses of managing technology, increase profitability, improve customer satisfaction and give IT directors more time. He did not think cost cuts would necessarily equate to IT job cuts.