What We Can Learn from Wozniak’s Cloud Warnings

Spend Matters welcomes another guest post from NPI, a spend management consultancy, focused on delivering savings in the areas of IT, telecom and transportation.

Have you heard what Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak had to say about cloud computing this past weekend? At first glance, his comments sounded like they may have been from 2002 -- not 2012. NetworkWorld.com ran a short re-cap earlier this week:

"Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak says he's worried about the continued adoption of cloud computing, which he contends does not give users enough control of their data..."I really worry about everything going to the cloud," Wozniak was quoted as saying this weekend, according to news service AFP. "I think it's going to be horrendous. I think there are going to be a lot of horrible problems in the next five years.""

Wozniak's concerns about cloud computing are certainly not new. It wasn't that long ago that many CIOs doubted the viability of cloud computing success for the very same reasons. But, as more and more enterprises have moved critical infrastructure and data to the cloud, the trend's momentum and benefits now outweigh these concerns. Who isn't in the cloud these days?

Yet, Wozniak's point is perhaps more valid than it was a decade ago. With more data and infrastructure residing in the cloud, the risk is higher than ever before. Furthermore, the sophistication of IT security threats has risen at a rate that is frightfully disproportionate to the sophistication of the solutions that protect against them.

Curbing this risk may seem like a herculean task, but many overlook the protection that strong contractual terms and conditions can afford. Establishing data ownership is the first step in creating an SLA that will define the standards for vendor performance. Additionally, because your data will reside remotely and, in some cases, within a multi-tenant architecture, your contract should clearly communicate the vendor's disaster recovery, business continuity and data confidentiality commitments. In the event that your cloud vendor isn't able to meet your demands or fails to uphold their service contract, the specification of termination costs and data transfer costs will go a long way in making vendor transition less painful and costly.

You may not be able to change the risks inherent in the cloud, but a rigorous approach to vendor and contract management can minimize them.

- Jon Winsett, CEO, NPI

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