Recently I was quoted in an article on The Var Guy by Elliot Markowitz (click here) regarding whether the current domestic spying scandal is affecting cloud computing deployments with U.S. companies. My view is that it hasn’t and I speculated that the issue hasn’t really been top of mind for small business owners that we have spoken to. However, I wanted to put a little more thought into this and consider some ideas.
My general view of cloud computing, hosted services, or frankly any technology is that it is a tool. It may not be the right tool for your business and it may not mean that you will be a cloud based company, but there are many benefits of cloud computing. Most of the business owners I speak with are U.S. companies, even those that have foreign counterparts or employees, generally have their main infrastructure in the United States, so I am going to focus on that.
Essentially the NSA or any other government agency that has the will to get your information will get to it either directly or indirectly, whether in the cloud or in your own offices. I’m not saying it is right or condoning it, just that it is only slightly harder in the case on on-prem vs. cloud.
Most business owners are concerned about their actual business. If any individual is doing anything nefarious and surveillance catches them, so be it! At least, that’s a guess as to what they are thinking. The business owners and managers we speak with are interested in understanding how they can protect their intellectual property: whether it’s their R&D, client lists, or proprietary investment practices. We are asked, more often than not, how they can prevent employees from taking information out of the business, on purpose or by accident, and it landing with their competition. If the U.S. government grabs the next chemical formula to cure hair-loss, no big deal. But their competition…different story.
All this adds up to businesses looking for ways to protect their information through processes, data classification, and controls. By doing those things right, they will do more to help move their business and protect their assets, than being concerned about the NSA seeing who their client list is, unless someone on that list is a person of interest. So back to cloud computing. If it makes sense for your business and it is designed and built properly, it can be a boon to a small or medium business, especially one that is spread out.