Cloud computing and business

How will cloud computing change the way we work? Stephen Pritchard explores...

Cloud computing is changing the way businesses look at IT, not least because it gives business people an easy way to buy technology.

Companies such as Salesforce.com increasingly report that business managers are sourcing applications directly from them, rather than going through IT departments.

This poses some questions both for IT departments, and also for business managers themselves. Although access to low-cost and flexible applications two key selling points of cloud computing is attractive, business units are not typically well versed in buying IT services.

"There are risks," cautions Neil Sutton, vice president, global portfolio, for BT Global Services. "Your data move beyond Europe, perhaps to the US, and that brings with it a whole host of issues. The CIO or the risk management team then has to deal with that. People in the business are not always aware of the fundamentals."

Issues such as security, data integrity, and data ownership are all considerations for any business thinking about using the cloud.

In some cases, a company that stores data might not even own that data anymore; the cloud services company might claim rights to it. In other cases, the data might be moved an inappropriate location or stored in a format that could breach security or privacy rules.

This could seem a very convincing reason not to turn to the cloud. But in practice, these issues can largely be dealt with through a combination of research, careful purchasing, and involving the IT department as a "trusted adviser" at an early stage.

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