Building Confidence in the Cloud

[Updated to include video from Voices for Innovation, 3:30 p.m., January 20, 2010]

The combination of smart client devices and cloud computing has become the next frontier in information technology, and with good reason.   Anyone who has read an e-mail in a Web-based service such as Hotmail or uploaded photos to a social media Web site such as Facebook has tapped into the potential of creating, accessing and sharing information in the cloud.

Cloud computing offers new benefits for almost every part of our society.  Yet many citizens and business leaders do not understand how cloud computing works, and according to a recent poll commissioned by Microsoft, 90 percent of the general population and senior business leaders are concerned about the security and privacy of personal data stored in the cloud.

To help cloud computing move forward and to maximize the technology’s potential for individuals, business and governments, we need a new conversation about ways to build confidence in the cloud.   This conversation should include technologists, legal experts and representatives from industry, consumer groups and other parts of civil society.

Today I did my best to get the conversation started at a Brookings Institution Policy Forum entitled, “Cloud Computing for Business and Society.”   In a speech to open the forum, I outlined specific industry and legislative actions that we at Microsoft believe should be acted upon promptly to advance the potential of cloud computing, while protecting users’ privacy and enhancing the security of their data. 

I have outlined my proposals in a blog that you can read on Huffington Post.  You can also find background on today’s event, the full text of my speech, and additional findings from our recent poll on cloud computing at the Microsoft News Center.

My colleagues at Microsoft and I want this to be an active, on-going discussion about these critical issues surrounding cloud computing, so I encourage you to leave us a comment to let us know your views and we will continue to keep you updated as the conversation progresses.

 

About the Author

General Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft

Brad Smith is Microsoft's General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Legal and Corporate Affairs. He leads the company's Department of Legal and Corporate Affairs (LCA), which has approximately 1,100 employees located in 55 countries. Mr. Smith is responsible for the company's legal work, its intellectual property portfolio and patent licensing business as well as its government affairs and philanthropic work. He also serves as Microsoft's corporate secretary and its chief compliance officer. Mr. Smith currently co-chairs the board of directors of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) and is the chair-elect of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity. In Washington state, Mr. Smith has served as chair of the Washington Roundtable, a leading Washington state-based business organization, and he has advanced several statewide education initiatives.