Big Brother (1984)
When you decide to start your own
business, which typically happens right after you invent something
new and exciting, one of the decision you typically have to take
these days is whether you will host all your digital infrastructure,
or whether you will trust an online cloud provider with your data.
This may include things like emails, calendar information, contacts,
and even shared documents. There are a lot of good options on both
sides. If you prefer to host your own data, then you can buy a couple
of servers, set a SharePoint installation, Microsoft Exchange for
email, and some VPNs for your employees. This does involve some costs
and IT expertise. However, the cloud offers some really appealing
solutions. For example, Google Apps is very inexpensive and gives you
everything through a portal you may already be familiar with, GMail.
You get several Gigs of space in the cloud for your documents, email
and your very own business portal.
However, cost and convenience are no
longer the only criteria for many people. With the recent NSA
surveillance leaks, a lot of people are starting to wonder whether
hosted solutions are worth it. One particular consultant recalls a
discussion he had with an European company which was starting its
online infrastructure. He tried to get them to use Google Apps
because it was easy and cheap, and when the European executives
worried about confidential business documents being spied upon, he
claimed that nothing like that would happen in the US. Now, he is no
longer so certain that the proper warrants, laws and procedures would
be followed, since the company is outside the US and the government
would have all the excuses it needs to spy on those documents.
This fact is heightened when
considering that these types of secret FISA orders, initially
designed to fight against terrorism, have been shown to be used for a
wide variety of purposes. Just this past week we were told that
Google handed out years of private emails from a Wikileak supporter
under such an order. This is someone who was never convicted of a
crime, and wasn't even suspected of being any type of terrorist. He
simply moderated an online chatroom used by Wikileak members, showing
that even US citizens can be targeted by politically motivated hunts
under these secret acts. So when you make that great invention and
decide to start a web site, online business and email server, will
you go the hosted route, or will you handle your data yourself?