The ugly, the bad and the good of cloud computing

I’d like to thank the members of the Information, Management, Privacy and Access Committee of the Ontario Association of School Business Officials, who invited me to address the subject of privacy compliance and cloud computing at their winter workshop today.

Here’s a snippet from my prepared speech (so you can understand the theme). I’ve also put my slides below.

…and that’s the thing. The cloud is a metaphor for the internet, and it’s a very pejorative metaphor if you’re a privacy person. It implies that the party receiving services has a cloudy idea of the computing resources that are being applied to its data.

So it’s this loose control concept that has thus far defined cloud computing that causes privacy and security concerns – and rightly so. Since school boards have a need to control their data because of regulation and other reasons, they need to work with cloud vendors to re-shape the concept if they are to reap the benefits of the cloud.

The presentation included discussion on the Lakehead University Google outsourcing, the 2005 British Columbia “Maximus outsourcing” and the very useful report by the Alberta Commissioner on public sector outsourcing practices.

Cloud Computing Presentation at ONAP 2009

I’m honoured to have been invited to present at this year’s Ontario Access and Privacy Workshop on October 26th and 27th in Toronto. The agenda looks great, and if you’re in the Ontario provincial or municipal public sector or in the Ontario broader public sector I’d encourage you to check out the conference site and consider attending. I’ll be speaking on privacy and cloud computing, here’s the abstract:

Cloud computing holds many opportunities as a model for business computing, yet it is also associated with a number of legal issues that have caught the public eye and invite close scrutiny. Join Dan Michaluk from Hicks Morley in taking a focussed look at these issues. Dan will lead a discussion with a view to helping government administrators develop a strong ability to manage legal issues in assessing, planning for and implementing cloud computing projects. Issues such as:

  • Good, bad and ugly cloud computing models
  • Applicable regulation and its impact on cross-border transfers
  • Laying the groundwork for outsourcing – the importance of due diligence
  • The negotiation and the contract
  • The Lakehead University and City of Los Angeles outsourcing projects as case studies

I’ve been out here on a Nova Scotian holiday for the last couple weeks reading up on the issue. I posted this piece over at Slaw as a kind of warm-up, but still have some thinking to do, so if you have thoughts or resources please do send them my way. See you there!