What Does the Cloud do for Me?

By Mark Mandel posted 05-24-2010 10:52


These days there is lots of talk about Cloud computing for business or government.  We all use the Cloud for personal stuff - YouTube, Gmail, Hotmail and so on, but how does it stack up for business use?  And what about Records Management, compliance, eDiscovery and those nasty governance issues?

On the benefit side, the Cloud allows small organizations to obtain infrastructure such as email and business apps without having to build a large infrastructure and have lots of IT resources.  I can see a startup using Google Apps, Salesforce.com, and other apps to get started quickly with a minimum investment.

For larger, more established organizations, it is a much more complex issue.  If you already have that IT infrastructure, you have to make tradeoffs on whether to buy or "rent" from the Cloud.  This can be done on a case by case basis, however, so for certain apps you might make that choice.

The big missing answer with respect to the Cloud is the governance issue - how do you enforce Records Management policy if your Cloud app does not have a mature RM solution?  Simple retention management is not sufficient.

If you have a combination of in-house apps and some Cloud apps, how do you consistently manage your RM policy across the entire organization?

How do you do eDiscovery?

How do you enforce HIPAA, FERPA, and other privacy requirements?

What happens if your Cloud provider goes belly up, or gets acquired?

Does your Cloud provider charge extra to migrate your data to another solution if you decide to move the app in-house?

These are all questions that need to be answered when making your decision to move up into the Cloud, and so far I do not see these critical questions being addressed.

Anyone out there have ideas, or answers?