I was reading an article on GigaOm about a presentation at the Structure 2012 conference in San Francisco today. At first I thought it was going to be the usual “security is still the biggest obstacle to the cloud” drivel that we have all read before. It was based on a presentation by Juergen Urbanski of Deutsche Telekom’s T-Systems. While Urbanski did say that security perceptions were still the biggest obstacle to wider cloud adoption in Europe (a mistaken perception according to Urbanski), he also noted a fear that seems to be almost bordering on paranoia by Europeans of the far reach of the US Patriot Act.
Regardless of your politics or feelings on the Patriot Act, I was not aware that in many parts of the world they view the Patriot Act as a means for the US Government to gain access to your data. I have seen in cloud computing where customers want to make sure that their data in the cloud is stored in data centers within certain geographies. Frankly, being from the US, I always assumed that US companies and especially US Government agencies wanted their data stored in US based clouds. It would seem that many outside the US have very different feelings about storing in the US.
Urbanski had this to say about security in the cloud concerns in general and Patriot Act fears in particular,
“If you peel back the onion a little bit, about 90 percent of those concerns are really perception versus reality — in other words, it’s evident to everyone that your money is better off in the bank, but with data, people are like ‘is it really safer in the cloud?’”
“Keep in mind that the issue of the U.S. Patriot Act is way overblown in the minds of European customers,” he added. “They will go to great length to keep their data outside the realm of discoverability, outside of U.S. data centers or U.S.-run data centers.”
But oftentimes one’s perception is their reality. It would seem that as long as the Patriot Act is on the books, we will see some reluctance from foreign companies to using the cloud, at least US based or US owned clouds.