Cloud computing is poised to be the next “disruptive technology” on the scene. It certainly has the potential to give a lot of power to companies big and small, power that is far too expensive for smaller companies to afford on their own. High availability, virtually unlimited storage space, and scalable processing power are premiums that enterprise-class organizations have the resources to implement, but small and medium-sized businesses simply do not have the money for redundant systems, massive SAN systems, and separate servers for every application. The cloud aims to make these services available to anyone willing to pay a reasonable fee.

Will Cloud Computing Transform IT? (Seattle Post Intelligencer)

One major improvement in the cloud is the recent addition of SSL security for Gmail accounts, which has not been widely reported but removes a major obstacle to businesses that want to outsource their e-mail. However, the cloud is not only for smaller businesses, Amazon reports that:

…the biggest customers in both number and amount of computing resources consumed are divisions of banks, pharmaceuticals companies and other large corporations who try AWS once for a temporary project, and then get hooked.

Unfortunately, there is a major price for these services, as a little-known provision of federal law allows officials to snoop into data stored at an ISP without taking the trouble of narrowly scoped warrants based on probable cause presented to a judge. Current rules allow a “general warrant” based on “reasonable grounds to believe” (a far lower standard than “probable cause”) that a suspect may be involved in illegal activity.

Why You Should Turn Gmail’s SSL Feature On Now (Webmonkey)

Cloud Computing – Predominantly an IT Operation Outsourcing Trend (Eclipse Developer’s Journal)

Get Off My Cloud (Security Focus)

I am an unapologetic supporter of the cloud concept. I believe that the cloud holds the potential to transform many industries in dramatic ways, most notably the small business. As usual for me, though, I do have serious reservations about the security of my data. Until today, I was mostly worried about the security of my connection to Gmail and other cloud services, but now I am just as worried about the government’s ability to look at my e-mail without even having to tell me that they are looking. So, though I do support the concept of the cloud, in practice it will have to wait until I can trust that my business data is safe from all prying eyes. What is your opinion of the cloud?