Today the House Judiciary Committee will discuss the technological and innovative power that cloud computing offers to individuals, the private sector, and the government.
Cloud computing is the movement of IT capabilities away from individual computers and servers to centralized providers that manage IT resources for their users via the Internet. These centralized providers are able to purchase hardware and software in bulk and thus provide these services to customers at a lower rate than if customers bought that technology on their own. Thus, the cloud brings new technological innovations to customers at a cheaper price. Additionally, the cloud provides advantages such as improved disaster recovery and resource scalability on demand.
As Congress considers the benefits of the cloud, it will also have to deal with the risks and concerns, especially in the area of security. A major worry of the cloud is that as cloud servers contain more centralized information, they will become attractive targets for major cyber attacks. The fear that government data could be compromised is a legitimate one, but it can be dealt with.
Most government agencies can sufficiently mitigate those risks by moving only appropriate data to the cloud and ensuring through contracts with cloud providers that security is maximized. These and other actions can mitigate the risks of cloud computing and make it worthwhile.
It is also important to remember that these risks are not specific to cloud computing. Whether it is an in-house server maintained by a government agency or a cloud server maintained by the private sector, there will always be mistakes, problems, and hacks that cause computers and servers to fail. The cloud, however, is innately more resilient. If one server goes down, other servers can back it up, offsetting some of the failure.
As Congress discusses cloud computing, it should be sure to provide oversight of this issue and ensure that federal migration to the cloud is handled right.