On collaboration, On enterprise SaaS, On outsourcing

Enterprise cloud computing and security, the missing debate or solved?

Gartner and IBM says Cloud computing will skyrocket in 2009. Microsoft is more reluctant but coming along as well. Several news sites report that 2009 will be the year of enterprise cloud computing, but others are unable to spot the next salesforce.com, requesting it to come out of the cave. Why? I believe that security concerns are the biggest hurdle; IT department does not trust that services in the cloud are secure enough. I am not talking about uptime and availability, which is also a needed discussion, but I am talking about viruses, hacking, and information leak and so on. Ok, Gartner sees this as well, but they still predicts “sky rocket growth” three quarters of a year later – I am not convinced, and I consider myself innovative – I dare not think about conservative 50 year old CIOs.

Viruses in the cloud, you got to be kidding? Well, last week Norwegian Police went out of business because of virus brought to them by MSN. Phishing attempts is a well known problem, and the “fatter” the account you can phish or hack, the more vulnerable it is. When Barrack Obama runs a teleconference in the cloud, god knows who listen to that.

Hacking in the cloud? Well, the first is social hacking; it has always been and probably always will be a problem, but when running on level one security (username and password) it is no doubt that it is not good enough, to get someone’s password is just too easy. I heard from youths at the age of 13 hacking MSN accounts. And one expects enterprises to jump onto this with storing mission critical strategy documents? No fucking way! Maybe you could get around this with solutions like decided IP-range, VPN-solutions, RSA code calculators and so on, but then the usability (and thus the usage!) starts to drop, people start complaining, the money starts running out anyway, and the IT department has it going. Norwegians has used internet bank since around 1998, when I visited Poland in 2003, long queues of bill paying polish men and woman were standing outside the banks. They had no trust in online banks, and thus were not using it. The same goes for US Consumers, using checks to pay bills. I am 25 years old, and can barely remember checks in Norway. Yes Norwegians have a large trust in banks, but then, BankID has never been exploited in successful large scale hacking attempts, and banks have spent millions on campaigns building user trust.
Information leak? Not long ago I heard about EmailXtender, a plugin to Outlook, helping you search for lost e-mail. The company at question had set it up wrong so all incoming e-mail was searchable from every employees computer. How about if the same thing happened to salesforce, suddenly some competitor could see all the leads to someone else? Often you want to share with people outside the company, but not always. The “not always” unfortunately is a must have, whilst as long as email, google documents and public CMS-systems works, the other is a nice to have. You get to share your documents and texts somehow anyway.

All right, I admit it, I am very critical towards enterprise cloud computing, but realise that I might “look like a server hugger who want to sleep with a copy of my data under my pillow“. Why am I critical? I have spent two years working for Steria and visited several customers, and security concerns are always an issue. Now, it may be that Steria has a traditional look upon this, we even promote and sell security consulting, but no one has yet proven to me that security is taken good enough care of when it comes to cloud computing. That said, I love the many fantastic new services developed out there like doodle, vyew, etherpad, comapping and so on, just do not even consider using them when you are hosting a discussion that needs a higher security level – yet!

On collaboration, On entrepreneurship, On social media

Sorry SecondLife

Ok, I admit, I have forgotten all about SecondLife, Linden Dollars and avatars in my recent research on social media.
In a class called collaboration at Uni three years ago I visited another 3D-world, and today (after being ticked off by a colleague) i joined SecondLife and now officially have an avatar called TigerOfNorway Riddler (why do you have to choose last name on your avatar, and why on earth do I need to type the choosen last name when logging in??) and I did some quick discoveries listed below.

People. What stroke me first was that there was actually quite a few people (yeah yeah, avatars, or what ever) in there. And I have heard that some Norwegian companies are establishing themselves there, but could not find them – how are you navigating this anyway? Eventually I found a way to search, but at first it gave me only web page hits. I learned to teleport after about four minutes.

Content and learning. My colleague said that content is moving away from gaming (if it ever was there) and more towards big and small companies establishing themself there, running electronic meetings in there, and sharing content in there. I have not had the time to discover this properly yet, but will eventually. My biggest question though, is how this will ever compete with Google + Wikipedia – there is no way I can see more content quicker in SL, then I can by searching and reading Wikipedia. Maybe the learning and illustration example will do the trick here but is that really enough?

Avatars. Not long ago, I saw something about us designing computers to more or less replace humans, rather than augment them. I think the entire SecondLife smells of this life replacement a little bit and is still skeptical. Compared to video conference where people is unable to do anything but look either at you when they talk and they expierience you looking down on them or the other way around (see “the problem with video conferencing“) however, I believe avatars actually improve collaboration, avareness and the conference expierience.

The world loads slowly. Last time I visited a 3D world was at University as stated above. My expirience then was reduced by the fact that it loaded slowly. And so did SL today. I was sitting at work at relatively proper lines, but still things moved slowly and lagged a lot. I also had trouble zooming on details. This bugged me quickly.

Tigerofnorway Riddler inspects Birka, the viking world

Now that was four cents from me. Hopefully I will overcome some of these on my next visit. Until then, I stick to Vyew, Skype and MOSS 2007. Any comments to my SL opinions? How is secondlife going to be really useful and take on?

Best regards,
TigerOfNorway Riddler
Newbie in SL