Can Corporate Counsel Tame Cloud Computing?

Can Corporate Counsel Tame Cloud Computing?

Owning data can be like owning a tiger. Both are extremely powerful and useful-even essential-for your particular business. Specific laws govern how both are to be treated and maintained. It is also very, very bad if you lose either of them.

Which brings us to cloud computing, the model where you hand your tiger over to a zoo for safekeeping. As corporate counsel, you need to understand, and be involved in, the business more than ever before. You need to learn the language of the cloud and prepare to advise senior management on the legal issues that will certainly arise.

Wild About the Cloud

The idea is easy to understand: the "zoo" has vastly more resources and efficiencies. It can protect and maintain your precious tiger with more expertise than you have in-house. Thanks to the Internet, this is possible for your corporate data. According to the contract you sign, you are allowed access anywhere in the world, 99.999% of the time. There are hundreds of articles out there to help you understand how the cloud works.

Everyone Loves the Zoo

Some experts think that cloud computing could cut corporate IT costs by half. Because of their scale, cloud providers can ostensibly pay for the best in technology and expertise, which translates into better reliability and security than a company could manage in-house. The cloud also adds flexibility, with usage-based fee structures and the ability to scale performance up higher than any typical corporate IT department could even dream of. With such a formidable upside, there needs to be a considerable downside for cloud adoption to be even debatable. Unfortunately, there is.

Data Escapes More Often Than Tigers

The debate over cloud computing usually begins with security-related concerns. IT professionals question whether service providers can be trusted to look after critical and confidential business data. They are wary for good reason: there have been a lot of high-profile escapes. For reasons ranging from aggressive hackers to negligence to bad luck, many cloud-powered companies have lost data, including Twitter, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and even Blue Cross. The consequences for American business are measured in billions of dollars.

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