Geeks With Blogs
Michael Van Cleave Traveling the technical world, learning the language

The other evening an article on the Red Tap Chronicles caught my eye. The article written by Bob Sullivan titled "The Constitutional Issues of Cloud Computing" was very interesting in regards to the direction most of the technical world is going. We all have been inundated about utilizing cloud computing for reasons of price, availability, or even scalability; but what Bob brings up is a whole separate view of why a business might not want to move toward the cloud for services or applications.

The overall point to the article was pretty simple. It all boiled down to the summation that hosting "Things" in the cloud (Email, Documents, etc…) are interpreted differently under the law regarding constitutional search and seizure than say a document or item that is kept in physical form at a business or home. Where if you physically have it stored someone would have to get a warrant to search for it or seize it, but if it is stored off in the cloud and the ISV or provider is subpoenaed for the item then they will usually give access to the information. Obviously this is a big difference in interpretation of the law and the constitution due to technology.

So you might ask "Where does this fit in with SharePoint?

Well the overall push for this next version of SharePoint is one that gives a business ultimate flexibility to utilize the Cloud. In one example this upcoming version gracefully lends itself to Multi Tenancy so that online or "Cloud" hosting would be possible by Service Providers. Another aspect to the upcoming version is that it has updated its ability to store content outside of the database and in a cheaper commoditized storage facility. This is called Remote Blob Storage (or RBS) which is the next evolution of External Blob Storage (or EBS). With this new functionality that business might look forward to it is extremely important for them to understand that they might be opening themselves up to laws that do not need a warrant to search or seize their information that is stored in the cloud.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in the next few months. Usually the laws change slowly in comparison to technology so it might be a while until we see if it is actually constitutional to treat someone's content on the cloud differently as it would be in their possession, however until there is some type of parity that happens or more concrete laws regarding the differences be very careful about what you put in the cloud.


Posted on Wednesday, April 14, 2010 2:32 PM SharePoint , General Ramblings | Back to top

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