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Wednesday, 1st February 2012 Sign in to MyJinfo or create an account be able to star items Click for printable version Subscribe via RSS to get updates as soon as Blog items are added Tweet about this item on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn

By Joanna Ptolomey

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It seems hardly a day goes by, or a few days here on the LiveWire, when the cloud is not mentioned. My husband too announced, at the dinner table no less, that he was investigating the cloud for asset data management for the utilities sector. I nearly choked on my carrots there and then.

But should we be watching out for the storm warnings?

Last week in Norway a test case highlighted the privacy problems faced by public sector organisations and the apps they were using for email. There was deemed to be insufficient information about where personal data was being stored. A main recurring issue around the cloud.

There is also the concern that public sector organisations are not completely ready for the move to the cloud – such as the G cloud framework for UK government procurement. In a Guardian article from January 2012 some are reporting that using cloud computing services brings around an 80% saving on desktop services. Enticing.

Cost and work efficiencies are hard to say no to, and accountants love them. But the real crux is the safety and protection of data. This too has become the major headache in the healthcare sector, and as yet no pill will soothe the worry.

The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK has been slower to embrace the cloud as a data management tool according to the Health Service Journal. In health this is not a passive system for IT departments and information architects, this is about the power of the people and patients. There is a lot of talk, but as yet though there does not seem to be enough evidence of real patient involvement.

In my mind I understand the cloud as a remote searchable database. Useful, but is it innovative and does it fit a purpose? If it can’t support data protection fully is it just a matter of time before, just like Norway, public sector and also private sector organisations decide the cloud is not fit for purpose and move on?

For the electronics driven consumer, the Financial Times considers whether the cloud really does provide clarity, structure and happiness to everyday life. The answer seems to be whether you know what cloud you are using, if you know at all, and that could depend on the service you used and on what device you used it. That sounds like I need to become a real techie.

I am a user of technology and I don’t readily want to know all the ins and outs of the workings. It worries me as a consumer that I will be in the dark in terms of my technology use and data input and output – how do I know that my data is safe and secure? The consumer could also be spending cash on cloud services if they exceed their limit or want to use certain services.

I don’t want to end on a sour note but perhaps the New York Times is correct – the cloud could be just about making everything and everyone working harder. Perhaps my husband won’t be making it home for dinner tonight at all?

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