Someone once almost said “what’s good for General Motors is good for America.” The fact that the quote — by a former GM CEO-turned-U.S. Secretary of Defense — got garbled in the translation doesn’t negate the fact that many people feel the U.S. needs to protect its key industries and vendors. Just last week, for example, the Obama administration overruled its own trade representative when it overturned a trade ban on some Apple product.
Many rank-and-file U.S. citizens are upset by revelations that the National Security Agency is collecting data on personal email and phone calls and even listening in on the calls themselves. Civil liberties groups have cried foul and European tech companies are parlaying the fact that the NSA accesses data from U.S. cloud companies for their own competitive advantage. And, that, could be bad for Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Apple — or any U.S.-based cloud company trying to build more business abroad.
Those companies are none too pleased with the notoriety that the NSA PRISM surveillance program has brought to their doors. On Thursday, Apple CEO Tim Cook, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, Google computer scientist and internet pioneer Vint Cerf and other tech executives and civil liberties leaders met with President Barack Obama behind closed doors, Politico reported. Interestingly, Amazon, the one major American cloud power not mentioned may gain the most if U.S. surveillance policy changes. After all it’s the largest public cloud provider by a large margin. So Amazon may not have been at the White House but it is most definitely an interested party. Nobody would disclose what transpired, but we can guess that this was not an informal little chit-chat. Here’s how the week unfolded:
- Monday: Think tank Information Technology & Innovation Foundation states that PRISM could cost U.S. companies $35 billion over the next three years.
- Tuesday: Obama staffers met with reps of Information Technology Industry Council, TechAmerica; defense contractors; Facebook; Google; Yahoo; Microsoft; the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Privacy Information Center, according to Politico.
- Thursday: Cook, Cerf, Stephenson et al meet with the President.
- Friday: President Obama addresses the topic of surveillance, at a press conference and concedes that he underestimated concerns U.S. citizens would have over data collection practices.
This controversy will be the topic of much conversation on stage at Structure: Europe in London next month There, Joyent CTO Jason Hoffman, author Dan Gillmor, ownCloud CEO Markus Rex and CSC Leading Edge Forum researcher Simon Wardley will hash out the impact PRISM is having on the acceptance of public cloud.
Dropbox keeps push, push, pushing into the enterprise
While VMware, Microsoft, IBM, and other enterprise IT powers keep on building their business-focused clouds, consumer cloud icon Dropbox keeps pushing its cloud file share and sync service as a business-approved solution.
Yes, Dropbox itself wants to be “the Dropbox of the Enterprise” and now it’s scooped up Matt Eccleston, chief architect and principal engineer for VMware’s End User Computing Group — the business unit behind VMware View and Horizon and associated desktop virtualization goodies.
San Francisco-based Dropbox, which — let’s face it — already has more than a toehold in most businesses because so many people use the free version personally — has added IT- friendly features — single-sign on support and better admin controls. And it had already hired execs from Salesforce.com and Google to further its cause.
It’s a busy marketplace. not only are big legacy IT players already battling it out — EMC Syncplicity is another entrant — but younger smaller vendors like Box and Owncloud are in the mix. And there are ancillary services like Ncrypted Cloud that layer encryption atop Dropbox (or other consumer clouds) to alleviate security conderns.