Cloud Computing as a Financial Institution

Ok, I’m sure the title of this post is throwing you a bit but please bear with.

I’ve been travelling the last few weeks. I’m driving as its only about 250 miles away. And driving unlike flying leaves you with a lot of time to think. And this train of thought dawned on me yesterday as I was cruising down I35 south somewhere between Clear Lake and Ames in northern Iowa.

The conventional thinking

So the common theme you’ll often hear when doing “intro to cloud” presentations is comparing it to a utility. I’ve done this myself countless times. This story goes that as a business owner, what you need is say light. Not electricity, no a generator, not a power grid.

Just like the you utility company manages the infrastructure to delivery power to your door so when you turn on the switch, you get the light you wanted. You don’t have to worry about how it gets there. Best yet, you only pay for what you use. No needs to spend hundreds of millions on building a power plant and the infrastructure to deliver that power to your office.

I really don’t have an issue with this comparison. Its easy to relate to and does a good job of illustrating the model. However, what I realized as I was driving is that this example is a one way example. I’m paying a fee and getting something in return. But there’s no real trust issue except in the ability for my provider to give me the service.

Why a financial institution?

Ok, push aside the “occupy” movement and the recent distrust of bankers. A bank is where you put assets for safe keeping. You have various services you get from the provider (atm, checking account) that allow you to leverage those assets. You also have various charges that you will pay for using some of those services while others are free. You have a some insurance in place (FDIC) to help protect your assets.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, you need to have a level of trust in the institution. You’re putting your valuables in their care. You either need to trust that they are doing what you have asked them to do, or that they have enough transparency that you can know exactly what’s being done.

What really strikes me about this example is you having some skin in the game and needing to have a certain level of trust in your provider. Just like you trust the airline to get you to your destination on time, you expect your financial provider to protect your assets and deliver the services they have promised.

It’s the same for a cloud provider. You put your data and intellectual property in their hands, or you keep in under your mattress. Their vault is likely more secure then your box spring, but its what you are familiar with and trust. Its up to you to find cloud provider you can trust. You need to ask the proper questions to get to that point. Ask for a tour of the vault, audit their books so to speak. Do your homework.

Do you trust me?

So the point of all this isn’t to get a group of hippies camped out on the doorstep of the nearest datacenter. Instead,the idea here is to make you think about what you’re afraid of, especially when you’re considering a public cloud provider. Cloud Computing is about trusting your provider but also having responsibility for make sure you did your homework. If you’re going to trust someone with your most precious possessions, be sure you know exactly how far you can trust them.

3 Responses to Cloud Computing as a Financial Institution

  1. Erik says:

    And/or make sure your cloud provider also has skin in the game. If the bank somehow ‘loses’ your money, they will have to pay you back. If your cloud provider somehow causes you to lose a week of sales, what do they have to do? Give you back the rent? Or something more?
    The fact that this is not very commonplace, suggests that Cloud is not yet a very mature market, where competition has not brought out the need for these types of contracts/SLA’s..

    On the other hand.. it’s no different than when your own data-center would mess up, you’d be on the hook for whatever damage caused then too.

  2. Pingback: Windows Azure and Cloud Computing Posts for 11/21/2011+ - Windows Azure Blog

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