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Do you have your head in the clouds?

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The recent iCloud failure which caused an outage for many has highlighted the rise of ‘cloud’ providers such as Google and iCloud and calls into question how robust and secure this new method of storage is.

‘Cloud computing’ was actually discovered by accident when Amazon and Google realised they could sell server space and processing power in a similar way to electricity. Out of this fortuitous mishap, the technology now exists to provide businesses huge capital savings.

In a nutshell, Cloud computing is the outsourcing of the entire IT infrastructure of a business. Data is not stored on site as is traditional, but instead it is located in the ‘ether’ or a Cloud.

However, in a Cloud environment geography loses all meaning. Data is dispersed across hundreds of servers in different locations. In fact, data can be so dislocated that Cloud platforms are unable to tell “where” data is at any given time.

Furthermore, depending on your provider, a Cloud platform will make several copies of your data and store them in multiple centres across the world simultaneously. It gets even more complicated when you start to consider public and hybrid Clouds.

Steps are ready being taken to deal with some of these issues, in light of the number of businesses who already store their information on Clouds. For example, recent European legislation provides that unless a Cloud provider takes certain steps, organisations are prohibited from transferring personal information to countries that do not provide the same level of protection as the UK.

However, trying to monitor where data travels and whether or not it breaches this legislation is extremely challenging.

Another major issue arising out of the Cloud is how secure data will actually be. From a commercial perspective it is difficult to undertake a due diligence assessment of a Cloud computing provider and the level of security offered.

Furthermore, should there be a significant data breach, there could be serious ramifications and costs for a business that has allowed such a breach.

Ultimately, addressing relative risk between parties in a Cloud environment is a significant legal challenge, particularly as new and cheaper cloud providers, outside known brands like Google and iCloud, will start to challenge for customers.

This is a challenging and developing area, which could provide both potential savings and significant benefits to businesses, if used and adapted carefully.

If you are considering Cloud computing as part of your business, we would be happy to discuss these issues with you and invite you to contact Ian Dawes on 01206 217314.