Sunday, May 30, 2010

The cloud and the fallout

SBS MVPs Calvin McLennan and Boon Tee, MVP Kerry Brown, SBS MVP Kevin Royalty and marketing guru Matt Makowicz
Back in the McCarthy era when atomic proliferation was on the minds of most politicians, the looming threat of mushroom clouds and nuclear fallout from potential first or second strikes scared the living daylights of most reasonable people. It became a matter of life or death to get everyone to think about life under the constant threat of nuclear annihilation and how to prepare for the inevitable. In the IT professional world, the newest threat and challenge to its business model is the amorphous "cloud," the term used to include all services, monitoring and threat management being sent to the Internet. In reality several corporations whose services live in the cloud are a direct threat to those who have traditional business models or offer managed services for clients on a local basis. There are potential problems of fallout with these companies due to legal liabilities or lack of failsafe methods being employed that can directly impact clients. Such scenarios include servers that may reside side-by-side with enterprises that are not legitimate, which could then get impounded by law enforcement officials or changes in H.I.P.P.A. laws which now put the physicians at risk should a breach of data occur, for example. This fallout can mean real costs to IT professionals and can lead to clients losing trust in them because of shortsightedness on the IT firms' parts. It is essential that everyone in the IT industry know of their legal responsibilities and that they inform their clients of how moving their data to the cloud can lead to future problems. What happens if the company they choose fails? How do they get their data back or, if they decide to leave the firm, at what cost will that firm charge them for the data? And, if the data is recoverable, in what form will they send it back? If the client wants to look at costs, how do we explain that the upfront costs may be miniscule compared to the overall cost of liabilities that may arise later? These cases are critical to the future of the IT industry and will be of prime import as more business move to the cloud and current managed services firms grapple with how to stay afloat with the burgeoning threat of the cloud. Today's panel discussion included several Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals who gave their take on what to look for and what to look out for. Also, Matt Makowicz, a former IT firm owner who now deals solely as an author and marketing guru, lent his own suggestions and warning to IT professionals. It was agreed by everyone on the panel that change is coming and all of those in the IT industry will have to change with it or lose viability in the next few years. Once again, thanks to Jeff Middleton for an impressive three-day event.

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