Oh the irony! CIA invests in cloud-based collaboration; maybe you should too?

By Steve Weissman posted 09-13-2012 17:35


CIA-backed In-Q-Tel this week made a strategic investment Huddle, a UK-based provider of cloud collaboration software, and all I could think was "how ironic is this!"

At a time when my consulting clients and classroom students constantly ask about the impact and suitability of the cloud in their operating environment, and the compliance ramifications of internationally-distributed infrastructures, here is an arm of the United States government investing in a company that is based overseas and is predicated on enabling collaboration without boundaries.

The idea is certainly sound, for the economics and efficiencies associated with cloud computing in many ways make it the model solution for large enterprises – like the government – that have so many potentially interdependent departments, so large a technology budget, and so great a geographical footprint. And, it is, of course, by definition, entirely consistent with the Federal Cloud Computing Strategy as outlined by U.S. Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra in a paper last year.

What doesn't seem consistent, however, is how a federal agency steeped in security and secrecy for the protection of its home country can invest in a foreign company whose flagship product is steeped in information sharing! No doubt the devil, as it always is, is in the details, and given who is providing funding, we will likely never really know what those details are. But clients and students take note: if cloud-based collaboration seems good enough for the CIA, then it is probably worth a look by you.

Cloud computing is one of the many key concepts covered by the Certified Information Professional exam. You can see my free training module on it here; for an in-person take on it and the rest of the story, feel free to contact me here.

#Collaboration #cloud #Collaboration


09-18-2012 10:49

Wes, you hit the nail precisely on the head when you wrote that "cloud adoption & collaborative processes across boundaries have little to do with where the data is stored." I agree with you entirely, especially as it relates to process improvement!
Unfortunately, this particular truth is often obfuscated by concerns -- and compliance imperatives -- that give the location of the hosting great importance, particularly where foreign entities are concerned. This, coupled with the sensitivities surrounding the protection of federal information, led me to chuckle at the irony of the CIA, of all places, to invest in a non-US-based organization predicated on the flexible hosting of a collaborative solution.
Let me be clear: I am a big fan of the cloud as an option to be explored and adopted where it makes business sense. While I can't go quite as far as saying it is a matter of staying in business if the cloud is not adopted, I can say that if the CIA is okay with it, then probably you should be too.

09-18-2012 08:36

I'm unclear of the issue...or correlation to others making a choice to use collaboration software or where this impacts people's decisions on suitability of cloud either. Granted it would seem a bit odd if they were rolling out a 5 year plan to leverage a public cloud located outside the US region for such info, but cloud adoption & collaborative processes across boundaries have little to do with where the data is stored. People & companies invest in technology all the time. Maybe they like the tech and want to use it in a private cloud hosted in the USA? Maybe they want to back a good idea that will go public so they can subsidize their budget cuts;).
If you use the NIST definition of cloud, it's not a question of suitability, it's how will I stay in business if I don't. I've found it very helpful in my work, perhaps you can give that a whirl with clients and students.