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Cloud computing under a cloud

columns Updated: Sep 14, 2014 23:44 IST
N Madhavan
N Madhavan
Hindustan Times

Two events in recent weeks Two events in recent weeks have raised fresh questions on cloud computing — the hottest trend in information technology. Cloud computing essentially refers to “renting” or sharing of hardware, software, storage or processing power through the Internet or Internet-based technologies, and dramatically brings down costs, Gmail being the commonest example.

Last week came the news that hackers had stolen and dumped about 5 million Gmail passwords on a Russian Internet forum, exposing these accounts risks. Earlier, US actress Jennifer Lawrence was in the news when her nude photos got leaked and the breach was blamed on iCloud, the cloud computing service run by the venerable Apple — which denied charges that iCloud lacked security even as it announced that iCloud’s security was strengthened.

Clearly, the outlook is cloudy for cloud computing.

I got some insights on this when I met Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMWare, which is a leader in cloud computing, during the company’s VMWorld conference.

VMWare specialises in making software that helps what they call the private cloud — a reference to private networks in which resources can be shared by employees while using cloud technologies. This helps cut costs and at the same time lowers risk.

Gelsinger says “security, liability, costs and data sovereignty” issues will keep large companies anxious, making the case for private cloud stronger.

Companies such as Amazon, Zoho and Salesforce are helping small and medium enterprises dramatically ease up their businesses by public clouds, but the problems are different for those for whom data is so sacred such as banks. Public cloud is like public transport: you know you can use a bus at a low cost, but you can’t be sure where you will be seated.