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Internet Governance 16 September 2010

Cloud Computing – Challenges Ahead?

Cloud computing is one of the issues that the IGF has committed to understanding during this week’s meetings. As I am from a telecommunications background, I certainly find it a very interesting topic. The increasing use of cloud based products creates some interesting challenges for telecommunications network operators, who will be increasinly relied upon to provide ubiquitous, reliable and quality connections to users of cloud based services. I believe that cloud computing represents a great opportunity to increase access to internet services, by simultaneously increasingly the availability of software products and platforms, whilst also minimising the hardware requirements to make use of these.

At today’s workshop on Cloud Computing, the panelists really opened my eyes to some other significant aspects of the nature of this product. Of significance for me was conversations about the need for a rethinking of nations’ approach to regulating privacy, software and data transferral to accomodate the cloud based world that is beginning to emerge. Are our current approaches sufficient to deal with the changes that may be coming, in terms of ever more sensitive personal and corporate data being held in data centres, which may well be in other jurisdictions? What concerns may Governments have about the “sovereignty” of their nation’s information when it is increasingly held in databases that may well be off shore. Will consumers accept what can be perceived as a threat to civil liberties, in having so much information stored and centralised in the hands of what could easily be a small number of multi-national companies? And will our Governments see these stores of information as valuable sources of intelligence in our increasingly paranoid times?

I remain positive about the prospect of cloud computing, but can certainly see many further debates that need to occur as business models develop, and as uptake of services continues to increase. And, I am very glad that I have been able to see and participate in these conversations, in the lovely city of Vilnius!

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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