Although reports of dissipating smog may be premature, if postings from Google are to be believed, Los Angeles is officially in the cloud. Google’s online email and collaboration cloud, that is! City employees will now use cloud computing for email and working on collaborative projects together. Google hails cloud computing for the city of Los Angeles as something that “will improve the security and reliability of city email, transitioning from servers in the City Hall basement to hosted, secure data centers.”
Los Angeles isn’t the only place to fall in love with clouds. VISI, the largest provider of data-center and managed-hosting services last month (December 2009), announced a public beta of ReliaCloud – a cloud computing service available to users anywhere. Set up an account online, set up computer servers in one of the VISI data centers, and employee-users can access the service from anywhere – anywhere there’s an Internet browser and connection. Cost? Reportedly, the pricing starts at 5 cents an hour! Welcome to fungible, commodity computing. According to VISI, its cloud service was designed to be reliable, affordable and scalable. The beta is targeted at small- to medium-sized commercial users, and businesses can apply at www.reliacloud.com. And VISI anticipates storage and other services to become available over time as part of a suite of offerings. Just one example among many of companies offering and embracing cloud computing.
The United States isn’t the only country where cloud computing environments are springing up. Back in September, the city of Dongying in China announced a strategic initiative with IBM, where the city is hoping to transform its industrial, petroleum-based environment into a service-driven economy. The cloud will be designed to allow start-up companies to do testing and software development through the web, but will also include electronic government services (e.g., e-services). IBM has also set up cloud computing in the Chinese city of Wuxi, and was recently picked to build another cloud computing platform – Quang Trung Software City – in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon, the former capital of South Vietnam). For you trivia buffs, Quang Trung was an Emperor of Vietnam centuries ago. IBM is another emerging player, along with Microsoft’s Azure, Amazon.com’s EC2, and Google’s AppEngine, to name only a few of the more prominent participants in the growing move to cloud computing environments.
So, if your head is in the clouds or if all of this seems foggy to you, you should consider learning more – especially about the legal implications and issues. And you probably should start doing so BEFORE your IT, Finance, HR, Security, Audit, or Operations people (or maybe even the government regulators), come knocking on the door! Want or need help? Contact me, Joseph I. (“Joe”) Rosenbaum, or the Rimon attorney with whom you regularly work. We’ll help get you out of the mist and back on Cloud Nine!