Monday, March 9, 2009

Government to look at cloud computing? Beware.

Today I just read an article that encourages cloud computing for the government due to the savings in consolidation of IT equipment and cost, etc. Before we go into all these thing about cost, I think the one point the article failed to address is the cost of security. One thing that is most important for the government.

The reason is very simple. All you need is to ask yourself a very simple question. Would you trust the cloud computing enough to store all your important tax documents, bank account information, passwords to the "cloud"? I won't, and I know that many people do store these kind of information in their personal computers. Yes... Passwords included.

If you can't trust the cloud, what makes you think the government should trust the cloud, unless they own the cloud? Cloud computing is a great concept of consolidation of services and hardware, but it is not meant for every solution, unless you own the cloud. There are many horror stories on the net where cloud computing goes wrong. Users seeing what they are not suppose to see, etc.

Some areas which I find that is quite safe will be the government's reach to the citizens for example. Forums, blogs, etc. All these may be deemed not too high in the security aspect, and can be put in a generic cloud to save costs.

However, how many such applications you have in the government sector? Most of the applications in the government sector would be more like tax portal, licence portal, identity/password application, etc. These are deem too important to be put into a cloud, unless the cloud is created by the government, for the government only. This would require huge investment in infrastructure costs and know-how to host this cloud, something that the government may not have the time to do.

One thing the governments may want to take note is that not to take all these conslidation of services too overboard. Governments might want to conslidate all their hardware and software to efficiently run your own personal cloud, but there are some platforms that are best suited for certain areas. For example, one of the most popular blog software is Wordpress and it runs on PHP, and MySQL. Try benchmarking Oracle that runs in Linux and one that runs in Windows and you'll know which operating system is faster and more efficient, etc. This might not be a big problem though since the current trend now is on virtualization. Virtual machines can run practically any operating system, and they can be clustered.

Cloud computing is a great concept, but like all other solutions, it's not a cure-all for all types of problems. IT is to enable business processes. Beware of crippling your processes because of the cloud restrictions.

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