Quick Follow-up to "Cloud Computing Insanity"

The post generated a crazy amount of debate - and that's a good thing! But I wanted to make another key point, particular with respect to the myriad of objections with respect to "what could happen" if your company moves to the cloud.

Many of the objections about using cloud computing contain elements of truth, but lead to a seriously flawed conclusion.

For example, a popular objection is that your cloud provider might turn your data over to the government without your awareness. This is seen as a unique and mortal danger of using the cloud - a "showstopper" to many. Somebody would get fired, for sure.

While this is possible, it's an extremely remote risk for several reasons. First, if the government knows where you are, they will first go to you to get your data (if you know anybody in the US AG office, ask their opinion). If they have a warrant to access the data, you're very likely to give it to them. The government goes to cloud providers when they are unable to locate the owner of the data - ie a shadowy individual, not a corporation with a known street address.

This is "how it works", but doesn't imply the risk is zero. Yes, there's some possibility it could happen with a national security letter, etc.

But remember: your cloud providers don't just have more engineers than you, they have more lawyers than you.

And good cloud providers are much better and more likely to fend off unwarranted data requests than you are (there's been much in the news about this recently). And by the way, government accessing your data is not guaranteed to be a bad thing - what if one of your employees has gone rogue and is planning to do something reeeaaallly bad?

Regardless, it's a really bad decision to forego the benefits of cloud computing because you fear this remote possibility. Even if it happened, in what scenarios would it cause material harm to your business? At the same time, I can virtually guarantee that technical obsolescence (via cloud avoidance) is a clear and present danger to your company.

The real problem is that lawyers in your company aren't paid to fend of technical obsolescence. That's why lawyers make recommendations, and business leaders make decisions.

cc +Urs Hölzle 
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