Cloud Computing and Confidentiality

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Ian Marlow HeadshotBy Ian M. Marlow
March 17, 2014

It’s hard to ignore the impact of cloud-based technology on the business world—and on our personal lives (think iCloud, Gmail and Dropbox for starters).

After all, the cloud is everywhere. Even if we can’t see it, we can always access it . . . and the information we have stored there. No question, it’s changing the way we do business and live our lives.

With all these repositories for our data accessible from anywhere, anytime, this raises a critical issue about confidentiality and online privacy—something which should take on heightened significance in a business context.

This also raises the issue of a public cloud vs. a private cloud.

Public Cloud. A public cloud stores your data on a hardware/software platform that you can access globally. That’s the plus. The downsides are that (1) you have no idea where the data is being held (a remote data center somewhere) and (2) you have no control or contractual obligation to have that data permanently removed should you request it. High convenience, low control or ownership of the data.

Private Cloud. A private cloud also stores your data and is accessible from anywhere in the world, but has some significant advantages: (1) the data are encrypted; (2) there is physical hardware located where the owner of the intellectual property is aware of (either in a data center or on premise) and (3) both the backup and elimination of the data are guaranteed, should the client desire so. High convenience and high control/ownership of the data stored there.

The major difference here between public and private clouds is the ownership and confidentiality of data. Since there are usually no contractual obligations or written guarantees relative to how data is handled on a public cloud, the owners of the intellectual property have little, if any, control over the data should they discontinue their relationship with that provider.

A private cloud, however, offers the access capability of the public cloud, but is able to meet strict data management, encryption and backup requirements that the owner of the intellectual property sets. For business owners and companies, the private cloud offers far more protection and greater balance between the security of client-based networking with the capability of public cloud access.

Do you use a private cloud for your business? Or are you and your clients working more publicly? What’s your take on the public vs. private cloud? Let us know by leaving a comment below.