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Summary:

Around the world, organizations and individuals are coming together to tackle technological hurdles in cloud computing. Various consortia are working on cloud standards and best practices, but it’s people, not technology, that could potentially represent the biggest obstacle when it comes to selling cloud computing.

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Around the world, organizations and individuals are coming together to tackle technological hurdles in cloud computing. Just this week, Intel launched its Open Data Center Alliance and Cloud Builders initiatives; last week, CloudAudit joined the Cloud Security Alliance. Elsewhere, various consortia are working on cloud standards and best practices. But, as I discuss in my weekly update at GigaOM Pro (subscription req’d), when it comes down to it, people, not technology, might represent the biggest obstacle to selling cloud services and software.

cloud-security report released this week by the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings highlights a big reason for this proposition. As authors Allan Friedman and Darrell West point out, technological issues are improving and will continue to do so as cloud computing matures and more money is pumped into security efforts. InformationWeek’s Charlie Babcock calls concerns over multitenancy “overblown,” for instance. What won’t necessarily get better are things like malicious insiders wreaking havoc, privacy issues and legal concerns.

The problem with privacy is that a breach isn’t necessary for unauthorized data access. As numerous commentators have discussed before, there is much debate over whether law enforcement can access cloud-stored data without a search warrant. Cloud contracts are an issue too, as providers who essentially deny all liability for anything that goes wrong aren’t winning customers. Humans — likely lawyers and judges — will have to resolve this one.

Then there’s the issue of jobs and overall IT department culture. Cloud computing, by its very definition, eliminates the need for certain personnel and forces the fusion of once-disparate IT skill sets. Believe it or not, many IT decision makers might stall cloud adoption within their organizations as long as possible until they’re comfortable with all the changes it entails — jobs or otherwise.

Some of the smartest minds in computer science comprise he cloud computing community; they’ll figure out the technology. What we need is more focus on the biological beings that make decisions, from senators to sysadmins. Ultimately, it’s their efforts that will help complete the shift to the cloud that technology started.

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