Microsoft urges industry discussion on Cloud privacy and security

By Tom Warren, on 24th Jan 11 12:41 pm with Comments Off

Microsoft is urging industry discussion on the impact of data privacy and security for the Cloud.

Microsoft’s Daniel Reed, leader of the eXtreme Computing Group (XCG) at Microsoft, spoke at the Digital Life Design (DLD) conference in Germany on Monday. Reed focused on the data privacy and security aspects of the Cloud during his speech. “Despite everything we’ve seen over the past 40 years the model of computing hasn’t really changed,” said Reed. The computer scientist, a supercomputing expert, warned that the privacy and security aspects of data in the Cloud are a deep social challenge. “We have to think globally about what it means to think about privacy and security” warned Reed.

Reed explained that there are technical issues to hosting data in the Cloud but there’s also cultural and management issues. “There are always risks,” warned Reed as he also described the risks present with hosting data yourself. Reed explained that Microsoft takes security “incredibly seriously” as it operates a worldwide suite of datacenters for its customers. During a QnA session at the end of Reed’s speech, an audience member posed the question of U.S. government interaction with American hosting companies such as the Amazon and Wikileaks case recently. An Amazon official explained that Amazon pulled its Wikileaks hosting due to a terms of service violation. Reed was quick to explain that companies need to “come to grips” with the social and legal issues of hosting content. Content could be hosted in a country that is technically and legally cleared but those who access it reside in locations where it may not be deemed legal.

Whilst Reed urged industry discussion, Microsoft’s Legal chief, Brad Smith, was speaking to France’s Assemblée Nationale about the opportunities that cloud computing represents for the European Union. Microsoft has seen a series of high profile Cloud adoptions in recent months. The State University of New York plans to move 465,000 students over to Microsoft’s Cloud in the coming months. The move follows recent Cloud adoption by London’s Underground network and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA moved 120,000 users to Microsoft’s Cloud services, announced in early December. Microsoft has been banging the cloud drum over the past year and it appears it is paying off well for Enterprise adoption. Microsoft began advertising “To the Cloud” consumer capabilities in October. The software giant has issued a number of adverts that highlight the cloud features of Windows Live. The company also kicked off a brand new advertising campaign named “Cloud Power” in October. The Redmond based company wants to take its cloud computing investments a step further by advertising the potential benefits to customers. Microsoft made its commitments to its cloud offerings extremely clear at this year’s Professional Developers Conference. The message of the event was that Microsoft were “all in” for cloud services.

Microsoft’s move to encourage industry discussion around privacy and security concerns will likely encourage partners and customers to consider Cloud based services. Microsoft is currently battling to ensure it is number one in Cloud based services throughout 2011 and beyond. It’s a key area of business and one that the software giant will not give up on without a fight.