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Should We Trust Cloud Computing? Economist Debate Says, Yes.

December 2, 2009

As Greg mentioned last week on our blog, the Economist hosted an online debate concerning whether the cloud should be trusted. After the ten-day debate ended November 19th, the majority of the 2,500 voters agreed that “we should entirely trust the cloud.” Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com led the cloud supporters and Stephen Elop, President of Microsoft led the skeptics. Even Elop, leader of the cloud skeptics, agreed that “the cloud can and ultimately will be trusted.”

The debate showed that security concerns hold some companies back from gaining the benefits of the cloud. Those opposing the cloud argue that managing your own hardware is safer. However, are these on-premises options actually safer? Or do people just perceive them to be safer because they are located underneath their feet in the basement?

Benioff explained this perception vs. reality issue by comparing clouds to banks. Just like putting money in the bank, storing data in the cloud provides a much more “robust environment in which there is prioritization, expertise, and resources fuelled by economies of scale, conditions that do not exist in most companies.” With cloud storage, you can access data from anywhere just as you can access cash from any atm. In contrast, keeping data in basement server rooms is much like keeping cash in basement safes. There is sometimes a perception that the safe in your basement is a more secure place for your cash, but the reality is that it’s easier to break-in, harder to protect from natural disasters, and is not easily accessible. We should trust clouds with our data just as we trust banks with our money.


IT consumers are rapidly grasping the reality that cloud computing offers a better service than the traditional basement server room. “The shift to cloud computing is building momentum by every measure, and cloud computing companies are growing robustly while their client-server counterparts are not.” More and more customers trust the fact that “cloud systems typically outshine their own in terms of reliability and security.” (Benioff)

This trust allows customers to gain efficiency, reliability, infinite scalability, and dramatic savings. As far as costs go, “Nothing builds trust like charging customers for exactly what they need and nothing more.” With the traditional server system, many users only need about 20% of their capacity, but they needed to pay for the extra 80% because scalability was an issue. Throughout this financial crisis, many companies have been crippled by overbearing infrastructure costs. As they “downsized” their employees, they could not “downsize” their servers. The cloud’s agility allows companies to come out of this recession stronger. With your data in the clouds, you can have 100 employees today, 10,000 employees tomorrow, and the storage capacity increase will be effortlessly instantaneous without any infrastructure investments.

Check out the debate at: Economist Cloud Debate

Pictures compliments of syncweekly.com, softwareforcloudcomputing.com, www.brtechnology.com, and brajeshwar.com

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