The concept

surrounding Microsoft’s Office Live intrigues me. A complete set of

applications, designed to manage a business, complete with e-mail,

collaboration tools, contact management, sales management, lists of inventory,

and a Web site editor. It all seems like a wonderful utopia. Of course, using

this suite to actually run a business means storing your sensitive customer,

vendor, and sales information on someone else’s server. A server you can only

access through the notorious insecurity of a Web browser over the just as

notoriously insecure Internet using infamously insecure Active X controls.

Being the

inquisitive editors we are, the TechRepublic content development team has

signed up for a beta account in Office Live. I’m going to poke around the

landscape and see what I can see and do what I can do to assess the viability

of this online management system experiment. I have to admit I approach the

whole concept with a bit of cynicism.

The idea of

storing sensitive information about my business on a server that I do not have

physical control over makes me very nervous. What kind of physical security do

they have for the Office Live servers? And even if they are physically secure,

how certain can we be that they are secure from hacking? How quickly will

Microsoft turn over our sensitive information to the government if they ask for

it? How will I know? What if Mt. Rainer erupts and wipes out Washington State,

is there an offsite backup?

Is anyone

actually going to do this? Do you trust Microsoft with this information? Do you

trust anyone with this information outside your company? Should you? It is one

thing for some squirrelly editors to put information on Office Live; it is completely

different when that information represents your entire business enterprise.