Cloud Policy: Where Ideals Meet Reality, Part I

Bob Deutsche joined Intel in 2004 and has more than 25 years of business and IT experience in positions that ranged from data center operations to software development to CIO. He can be found online at Bob Deutsche on the Intel Server Room.


For me, one of the many challenges in writing a biweekly column for a respected online journal like Data Center Knowledge is a secret fear that nobody will read or care about what I’m saying. I was prepared to admit to some feelings of inadequacy until last weekend—when I celebrated the end of Oktoberfest (“zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi”) and finished the third book of Edmund Morris’ trilogy on Teddy Roosevelt, Colonel Roosevelt. In the book, a reporter for the New York Times says the muted reaction to many of Roosevelt’s speeches denoted not so much apathy as “a quiet, steady, intent earnestness that does not often characterize a crowd. . .” Hey, that’s good enough for me.

With this thought in mind, I begin a two-part installment on my sixth Fundamental Truth of corporate cloud strategy: Technology-driven business practices often circumvent government regulations, but legal and government policy standards will dictate the cloud’s success.

You may ask why this truth, unlike the others we’ve discussed, requires two installments (and, of course, the time it takes to read them). The answer is simple. Based on everything I see and hear about worldwide cloud implementation, this topic is the most important of my eight truths. It deserves more explanation than is possible, at least within my humble abilities in the 1,000 or so words we have here.

To begin the discussion, look at this image: (Click Image to View Full Size)

Image courtesy of Intel

While our 2015 cloud vision is an interesting discussion on its own, the implications and limitations of the broader cloud vision, as related to policy, become apparent if you consider the world map I’ve included in the background.

Let me explain: A robust cloud framework (private or public) is community-oriented by its nature. This includes not just select parts of the community, but the entire ecosystem—hardware, data, process, communications, and skills. By considering that the cloud community, at least from a technology perspective, has the potential to include every country on the planet, you begin to get a sense of why I consider the discussion of cloud policy so important.

Governments Impacting Cloud

From this point on, we must consider how cloud technology—and, by default, any of our business systems and related data hosted in the cloud—must contend with policies and standards that are framed by location and related geopolitical considerations.

In an October 1 Washington Post column by Lillian Cunningham, Google’s Eric Schmidt recalls a dinner in 1995 with Intel’s co-founder Andy Grove. When asked about governments’ ability to react to technological change, Andy said that “. . .high tech runs three times faster than normal businesses. And government runs three times slower than normal businesses. So, we have a nine-times gap.” Although the comment was primarily about government in the U.S., governments worldwide have a similar cadence. Given government’s role in establishing and implementing cloud policy and standards, this is an interesting conclusion.

In my opinion, some of the most open thinking about the global implications of policy and standards on the cloud is coming out of academia. Maybe this is because the academic community, by its nature, is a group of experts aligned along areas of interest versus geography.

Cloud Computing in Asia

In November 2010, Keio University, Japan’s first private institution of higher learning, published the Asia Cloud Manifesto. The document explores the implications of cloud computing across Asia and begins to address potential impediments to the regional cooperation it will take to establish a robust cloud ecosystem. A key element of the discussion is identifying policy- and standards-related issues that apply to the cloud in Asia. For me, the most compelling aspect of the Manifesto is that these issues are universal.

Based partially on the Manifesto, and in no particular order, here are what I consider the top-tier policy and standards considerations for the cloud:

  • Privacy
  • Competition and standards
  • Bandwidth management (wired and wireless)
  • Sovereignty
  • Copyright
  • Security (logical and physical)

In Part 2 of this column (in about two-weeks), we’ll discuss each of these considerations and identify some of the major global government cloud policy initiatives you should at least be aware of (expecting that your cloud service provider is an expert in all of them) as you continue your journey to the cloud.

Finally, and to help keep things in context, here’s a complete list of the inviolable, Fundamental Truths of corporate cloud strategy:

  • Large-scale transformation to cloud computing, including your critical business systems, is a journey that will take you from 8 to 10 years.
  • Cloud is a top-down architectural framework that binds strategy with solutions development.
  • Your cloud ecosystem is only as robust and adaptable as the sum of its parts.
  • Services-oriented enterprise taxonomy is not optional.
  • Cloud is a verb, not a noun.
  • Technology-driven business practices often circumvent government regulations, but legal and government policy standards will dictate the cloud’s success.
  • Bandwidth and data transmission may not always be as inexpensive and unencumbered as they are today (geo-sensitive considerations).
  • Altruistic motives do not generally keep the lights on.

In future discussions, I’ll continue to detail these fundamental truths. As always, I’m interested in what you see or hear about today’s topic or others that we’ve discussed. Please join in the discussion by posting a comment or contacting me via LinkedIn.

For Part II, visit Cloud Policy: Where Ideals Meet Reality, Part II.

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  1. Brad Ellison

    Great article, Bob! One of the things that often gets lost in the industry's discussion about cloud (and all things virtual) is that there is a physicality underlying the capability. To the degree that the physical components are located in distinctly different geographies, so they are affected by the characteristics of those geographies. The geopolitical piece is certainly a (very) key element of cloud strategy as we have seen in the past few years, particularly in the PRC and Middle East. Another element I would add is the geophysical, meaning that earthquakes, tsunamis, etc., while perhaps not taking down the cloud, will impact delivery of services to end users and customers. The unique risks inherent in both location of cloud assets and delivery of cloud services must be taken into account in the development of a successful strategy.

  2. Bob Deutsche

    Brad, thank you for your comments. I really liked the way you bound the issue using the terms “…physicality underlying the capability” and plan on using a variation of the image this creates in a corresponding blog that will be going live this week on Open Port. Unfortunately, not sure I am sensing a high level of interest in the greater technical community around these issues though. Maybe this is because at an individual level there is not much that can be done or that there is a mistaken belief that somehow you are shielded from policy if you utilize a private cloud. On this last point, nothing could be further from the truth; much evidence in multiple verticals that I am seeing which suggests otherwise. Bottom line is that it comes back to your main premise, a robust cloud framework is community-oriented. It must be if the on-demand services promised are delivered through rapid elasticity and resource pooling. If this community is constrained due to geopolitical considerations, I’m afraid that it is not much of a community.