As you have no doubt been anxiously awaiting, below is my response (with a few minor edits) to Mr. Rick Gordon, Managing Director at the Civitas Group in response to his concerns detailed in the post entitled, “Cloud Concerns in Los Angeles?”
Dear Mr. Gordon,
Thank you for your comments.
I completely agree with the lack of cloud computing standards and data security concerns you describe, and while I predominantly target the small to medium business market segment (which itself is prone with security issues due to lack of skilled, in house, IT security specialists), I concede that larger organizations with much more sensitive data at stake have even more of a duty to ensure it is protected.
That being said, an “on premise” cloud computing model would give control and more security to larger organizations that face such issues. Take a look at what the GSA, and others are doing in this space. Of course, a careful cost/benefit analysis would be required to determine whether the organization’s size and scope of its mission would create the necessary return on investment to be worthwhile.
The City of L.A. may be large enough that it can provide a hosted, “on premise” model, and then offer that model and service not just to its own constituents and stakeholders, but to others becoming a Government Service Provider for other government entitities in the region, while providing secure access to all its stakeholders.
As far as lock-in goes, it is true, that’s very much the model, not unlike the ‘lock-in’ Microsoft has in the OS business, or IBM in the supercomputer and mainframe arenas. Yes, there are alternatives for both, Linux or other hardware vendors. However, the issue of lock-in will become less pronounced over time as emerging cloud interoperability standards take hold and allow seamless migration between cloud providers.
In the short-term, you are right. Though in the short term these issues can be addressed through other business models of cloud computing. In the mid-long term, one can easily see interoperability standards take hold making migration easy, and as that happens, cloud providers will be more aggressive about addressing the issues you’ve described lest they lose the business to a provider that is diligently addressing these issues.
A similar story has played out with most of the technology I’ve come across in my career. From the early days of spreadsheets and word processors where the customers were ‘locked-in’ to that format (now one easily opens up many different formats) to hardware and OS alignment. It used to be that if you used Solaris 10, you needed to buy Sun hardware, though today, you can run Solaris on IBM hardware for example (we’ll see what happens now that Oracle owns Sun).
And not all ‘lock-in’ is necessarily bad. Look at Apple. Talk about proprietary lock in! Though for much of their market, their value add – eliminating the underlying technological complexity – is of such great value to their customers that their base willingly agrees to be locked-in by virtue of their continued Mac, iPhone, and iPod purchases.
I welcome positive exchanges of comments on how we can all best take advantage of this technological paradigm shift to reengineer our collective business processes and conduct our respective businesses in the most cost effective and efficient manner.
There is little doubt in my mind that there are hundreds of billions of dollars if not trillions in inefficient and wasteful business processes in both the private and public sectors.
-Tune The Future-