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Containers Expo Blog: Opinion

Cloud Computing Vendors Need More Transparency

Faith-Based IT is a Dog That Won't Hunt

Earlier this week, I wrote a bit about fear and how it may be driving ostensible concerns about potential security problems with Cloud Computing. I didn't mean to imply that all security concerns are disingenuous or obstructionist, and it behooves the big cloud services vendors to address these concerns by being much more transparent, ie, open, about how and where they work their magic.

Faith-based IT just won't cut it. That dog won't hunt. I would imagine that even Billy Graham would "trust, but verify" that a cloud services provider shares every procedural and technical detail available.

A number of presenters at this week's RSA Secuirty Conference homed in, not unexpectedly, on security and Cloud Computing. Some worried about "catastrophic" failure. Well, don't we all. This sort of comment does nothing to move the conversation forward.

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But the request that the big providers--no need to name them--become more open about where their farms are located, and how they are securing the keys to their clients' kingdoms, is a request that must be answered if Cloud Computing is going to succeed. Because, as it turns out, compute-as-a-utility is not really like electricity or water; it's more like, well, you know, data. Electricity and water are buck stupid; data can be as well, as can its creators and managers, but it's not meant to be so.

The good news is that there are several potential monopolists in the game today; a single vendor or two has not yet been able to establish dominance. Whether this occurs as the market matures is a discussion for another year. For now, it seems to me that one or two of the big vendors will capitulate, and become born-again transparentians as a matter of competitive differentiation.

The corporate mindset is pathologically resistant to public criticism, something that is amazingly ironic given the typical level of cutthroat, sociopathic criticism endemic to the internal workings of most companies. But it's time to "loosen up, Sandy baby" (google John Riggins for the reference).

Don't worry that your server farms aren't that green or that they don't employ many people. People want to drive their cars, so they need oil tankers and refineries; executives in these industries are unapologetic. Time for cloud service providers to be open and unapologetic as well. Go ahead, ditch the "don't do evil" and other high-minded crapola, tell us where you keep your stuff and exactly how you propose to manage my stuff.

The Cloud Computing market stands poised for take-off. As it launches and makes its way into the, ah, clouds, it will consume a lot of energy, and will no doubt experiience many glitches. But Cloud Computing represents a future that should be; it's time to dream of things that never were and ask, why not?

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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