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Cloud: What about regulated environments? April 29, 2011

Posted by Mark Hillary in IT Services, Outsourcing, Software.
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The cloud changes everything. That’s the consensus view. Whether it’s remote infrastructure management, software as a service, or utility computing or all of these strategies combined in some way, the cloud is changing the IT services market.

But forget the hype you read in a lot of the business and tech press. Most of us are already using cloud-based services with photo-sharing, video-sharing, document-sharing services, or even tools like Google Apps and Gmail. Facebook and LinkedIn are both tools that exist in the cloud and most executives probably use them each and every day.

The question is really how do we move from acceptance of consumer tools to a place where these applications can be used in a bulletproof and robust corporate environment?

It’s a tall order. IT leaders have a different focus to personal end users, particularly when it comes to availability and security. These are particularly important factors when the IT service is purchased from a supplier and will translate into key performance indicators applied to a service level agreement. The small print of the publicly available services does include information about service levels, but it will usually just excuse the provider from any responsibility to give you a reliable service.

If Google Mail was never available when you wanted to use it then it would be abandoned and never used, but it’s reliable enough for most of us most of the time – even with some occasional well-documented failures. Google does offer a paid version of their mail product, with SLAs, so it works better for corporate users who want that guarantee.

But can real companies make this work? It’s more than two years now since Guardian News and Media Group in the UK switched 2,500 users over to Google Apps and with it being such an easy financial decision, more will follow – so it can be done and stepping away from email on individual PCs is no longer seen as such an unusual move.

The cloud is coming and it will change more traditional bread and butter IT services such as ERP and CRM for the supplier market. But how does all of this work in a regulated market such as the public sector, banking, or for a utility. What are your thoughts ahead of the Thomas Eggar Technology and Enterprise Forum on Thursday May 12?

What’s in your (data) wallet? November 12, 2010

Posted by Mark Hillary in Outsourcing, Software.
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So Google is fighting with Facebook over the right to access the address books of each other. The issue is that Facebook allows the user to find new friends by scouring through your Google address book and determining whether those email address are active on the social networking site.

But Facebook doesn’t allow Google the reciprocal rights to go scouring through the friends of a Facebook user and to scoop up their contact details for the Google address book. This anomaly has existed for some time with Google grumbling about it, but now their frustration has boiled over to the point that they have stopped allowing Facebook automatic access to Google address books. It’s still possible to do it all manually by exporting contacts to a file and then importing them, but it’s fiddly and has multiple steps, especially compared to the automatic check.

So who owns your address book anyway? Isn’t that list of contacts actually your own property? How can these giant corporations be fighting over my address list – as someone who uses services from both companies, like half a billion others. Well, if you still use a Filofax or Rolodex then you do own your contacts, but that doesn’t help very much when you want to send an email or make a call, unless you are sitting at your desk right next to that stack of thousands of Rolodex cards.

Both companies can clearly see a converged future. Mobile phones are synchronising automatically with online address books now, so the player who ends up with the dominant address book system will be in a powerful position, controlling email, social network, and mobile contact databases for hundreds of millions of people and watching how users use those contacts.

I’m interested in the point at which that information, self-created by me, ceased to be my own property. Do I have a say in how my address book is used or squabbled over any longer?