Editor’s Note: To assist our clients in understanding the issues surrounding cloud computing, we are posting a series of short write-ups about this subject. The following is the second post in this series and it deals with certain non-technical aspects. See the first post in the series on 6 Benefits and Concerns for Cloud-Based Financial Solutions and our third post: Heartbleed: Fresh Evidence for the Cloud Debate.
Much of the technical world is involved in an on-going discussion about the merits of cloud computing. Cloud computing is the name given to the use of remote servers that are owned and maintained by a third-party company and are accessed via the Internet. Many technology experts and providers are quick to extol the virtues of this arrangement. In fact, in an earlier post, we summarized its advantages. This post, conversely, considers the other side of the issue: If cloud computing is so great, why is there still so much debate about it?
There is no doubt that cloud computing offers certain distinct advantages that can significantly improve how an organization conducts its business. Nevertheless, cloud computing also raises a major issue that did not exist in the previous, on-site version of information management. Now, the owner of the data no longer controls it. Instead, the nature of cloud computing requires that the owner delegates possession and security of its data to an outside party.
It can be difficult to get comfortable with this outside party. They are remote. They may speak a different language. You cannot monitor their activities. Plus, the contract they require you to sign often totally absolves them of any responsibility for damages you could suffer as a result of unauthorized use of your data. However, the most serious problem with cloud computing may be the image it triggers in the minds of many people.
The news media are full of stories about data breaches, everything from stolen credit card numbers to our own government accessing the data files of leading Internet companies. It is no wonder that many firms are wary about embracing a trend that may have additional, potentially catastrophic consequences still waiting to be discovered. Such perceived risks present an especially difficult hurdle to acceptance by many financial advisors and CFOs in family offices.
We understand their concerns and reluctance. Those factors have significantly impacted the development of our strategy for cloud computing. In later blog posts, we will describe how we are combining the best technical solution with the greatest flexibility in order to provide both the performance and the peace of mind our clients need.
We look forward to hearing your thoughts as well as telling you more about what we have learned.