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Commentary on "Amazon's Wikileaks Response Treatens Cloud Computing"

What are the implications of Amazon's response in the Wikileaks situation? Know the rules of the road before signing up with a service provider.

The Wall Street Journal's Ben Rooney posted Amazon’s WikiLeaks Response Threatens Cloud Computing, an interesting analysis of the implications of Amazon's removal of Wikileaks from its servers. It is certainly worth the time to read if you are considering the use of either infrastructure or platform as a service offerings. I do, however, differ with some of his conclusions.

The key issue Mr. Rooney focused on was trust.  It is absolutely necessary for organizations to select trustworthy service providers. It is just as necessary to completely understand the terms of service and how service level issues will be handled by the provider. I agree that this is a very important issue.

I believe that there are several other lessons to be learned here as well.

  • Before signing up to use a provider's service offering, organizations should understand the terms and conditions of service completely. If there is something unacceptable found in those Ts and Cs, the organization should go elsewhere to purchase services. Many other providers are out there vying for the organization's business.
  • The organization should understand what service level agreements are in place and what type of response the provider is going to take when something comes up. If those agreements don't adequately address the organization's requirements, it should seek services elsewhere.
  • The organization should understand how quickly the provider is going to respond and what, if any, recourse the organization has if the response appears either too extreme or inadequate. Being shut down certainly appears to be a rather extreme response in this situation.

I don't agree with Mr. Rooney that Amazon's action in the Wikileaks case will tend to slow or stop the adoption of cloud computing.

The promise of flexibility, cost control and being able to provide needed IT services without also having to make investments in real estate, buildings, networking infrastructure, systems, storage, software and staff still is quite enticing.

It seems far more likely that organizations will take a harder look at their service providers' "rules of engagement" before signing up after seeing what happened in the Wikileaks case.