Cloud computing has been a popular term for a year or two now, but many of us still don’t know what it is or its implications. To a degree, it is old wine in new bottles (hotmail has been around for over a decade now) but it is also so much more. 

This has led to some pretty slick selling of the concept without being entirely straight forward as to the impact on the interests of all stakeholders. In an article titled “Salesforce.com: Cloud Computing is a game-changer”, Peter Coffee is quoted as saying:

“The cost of one failed project is negligible,” ... “Say you try 10 projects and nine of them fail. In the cloud, you kill the nine without mercy. It doesn't cost you anything more. But you take the one successful project and you grow it as quickly as the market conditions demand. In the cloud, the cost of failures become insignificant compared to the success of a project.”

That addresses the risk exposure of the cloud service provider and the business that builds a service on that layer. But it says nothing about the risks to which end users and customers are exposed, be they lack of service fulfilment or compromise of sensitive personal information.

But some clarity is emerging. A particularly good discussion of the issues is given by my good friend and respected commentator, Michelle Dennedy. She used to be the privacy officer for Sun Microsystems Inc. Now she is their Chief Governance Officer, Cloud Computing. Read the interview she gave for NymityNews, covered in its January edition.

In this interview, she briefly describes the excellent definitions established by the (US based) National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on what is cloud computing then goes on to discuss some of the risks created.

Read the article. It is well worth the 10 minutes it will take you.