Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Geopolitical Cloud

Over the last few months there has been a lot of discuss here in Canada on the topic of hosting data outside of the country (specifically in the US). The topic has recently reached a breaking point when the Canadian government declared that government IT workers not use network services that are operating within United States borders. The reasoning is that Canadian data stored on those servers could conceivably be negatively impacted by the repercussions of the Patriot Act.

It is amazing it's taken this long for the Canadian government to come to this conclusion. The radical Patriot Act has been around for several years, and stories of servers being seized without justification almost as long. As a small Canadian company, we've been hosting our most critical and sensitive information on either servers located in our own "data closet" or Canadian based ISP's since I started Enomaly 5 years ago for exactly this reason. One of my biggest concerns about Patriot Act is it's lack of transparency to when, where, what and how my data may be inspected and or seized.

I've been a proponent of geotargeted cloud computing for awhile (the ability to geographically target compute resources). The problem is for the most part there still really isn't any options outside of the US to do this. This type of Geopolitical computing may very well be one of the best opportunities for cloud computing in the future. (Security being the #1 issue) Not only will cloud users be able to adjust their computing environment based on geographic demands, but also based on Geopolitical ones. For example I have a sudden spike in traffic from China, but the great firewall of China may place limitations on data I actually store there, therefore I data warehouse in Singapore.

At Enomaly we've been working with several large telecom's on the development of prototype cloud utilities for this very reason (among others). I am curious if anyone else is also working or thought about this type of use case?

It may be merely a mater of time before the large infrastructure providers (France Telecom, BT, China Telecom etc) realize this opportunity and we have a real geographic cloud targeting capability. In the mean time, I'll just make sure to use cloud resources on less sensitive data or use Enomalism (blatant product placement) to create my own clouds on my own hardware. Then again isn't the value of cloud computing not having to own or manage any hardware?

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