On Friday, I was at a Google DC Talk on a new paper Envisioning the Cloud: The Next Computing Paradigm, written by the consulting firm Marketspace and commissioned by Google. The paper was a good summary of the potential of cloud computing (where the information resides at large data centers and is therefore much more accessible). According to the press release:
The paper outlines key factors that can allow consumers, businesses and the government to realize the full potential of the cloud:
• Full connectivity: Government policies should encourage the deployment of wireline and wireless broadband access so that users can access cloud-based services anytime, anywhere.
• Open access: A combination of market forces and FCC enforcement of existing laws can ensure users enjoy unfettered access to the Web sites and services of their choice.
• Reliability: Competition will continue to drive cloud providers to enhance their reliability. Many companies already offer contracts that effectively guarantee near 100 percent uptime.
• Interoperability and user choice: Because cloud computing is at such a nascent stage, forcing standards of interoperability may actually impede innovation. Because consumers already demand interoperability and portability, the market will drive providers to compete on these bases.
• Security: Cloud providers must make a compelling case to users that their data is safe. While competitive market forces will drive service providers to differentiate themselves on security, the government can play a role by aggressively enforcing cyber-crime laws.
• Privacy: A combination of market-driven policies and government action can best protect the data that consumers and businesses store online. Industry should develop common standards for security and privacy, and institute more protective and transparent privacy policies. Government should shield consumer data from inappropriate government scrutiny and define the rights of companies to use data about their users for commercial purposes.
• Government adoption: The federal government should become an early adopter and fund research. It can also accelerate competitive forces by insisting on standards to enhance privacy, security, openness, sustainability and interoperability.
These recommendations fit with the conclusions of our own report on Virtual Worlds and the Transformation of Business, specifically the recommendation that government policies address the need for the technical infrastructure. Cloud computing is a key enabling technology to allow for a variety of new collaborative technologies, such as virtual worlds. As our Virtual Worlds report points out:
online social networking and Web 2.0 platforms are likely to transform core business operations and interactions with suppliers, customers, and supporting services. Virtual Worlds platforms that form the core of a new corporate operations ecosystem will not only allow for horizontal and vertical interactions but will expand the essential business, partner, and management linkages that enhance productivity over the long term.
Getting the cloud right is an important step toward reaching that potential. This new paper points us in the right direction.