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Legal Eagles And The Cloud: What Would Denny Crane Do?

by Daryl Plummer  |  February 12, 2010  |  1 Comment

In the last three months, I seem to be spending a lot of time with legal staff at large enterprises talking about cloud computing. I knew the lawyers would wake and get in this game in a big way, but what has surprised me is the amount of glee these lawyers seem to have re the cloud model and how it affects their companies. I think they actually enjoy being the center of attention as usual on something that everyone keeps bringing up. Well, this time we’re really gonna’ need them.

Bill Baker did a quick piece on this last year in “Don’t Overlook Legal Issues in the Cloud”, as did Chris Edwards in “Uncovering the legal issues behind cloud computing”, and a host of others.

And yet, even with all those pieces out there, where is the firestorm that should be building? Most customers want to talk about public and private cloud but when I bring up the legal side I get blank stares half the time. Its like they know there is a party going on, but either they weren’t invited or they don’t want to hangout with Denny Crane and Alan Shore any longer than they have to.

The legal party is heating up around “Guarantees” – like what will, and what will not be guaranteed a consumer of cloud services by the provider?

–         Will they guarantee where your data is?

–         Will they guarantee that the regulations of your home area will be applied to their services delivered from another part of the world?

–         Will they guarantee up-time, privacy, security, bandwidth, or anything having to do with living up to your expectations?

Denny Crane would probably just ignore those issues and bribe the judge whenever he was challenged. But back in the real world, those are still outstanding questions among many others that might relate to future legal action in the cloud.

But don’t worry, it may not be as gloomy as it might seem assuming you don’t like to party with those esteemed and educated jurist jockeys. Just keep in mind that, in many ways, the lawyers will be the ones who urge cloud providers to get off their collective “briefs” and start providing some of the guarantees Enterprises need from cloud services.

So, I recommend this – if your cloud planning meetings do not include legal staff, get them there now. If your legal staff is not rapidly coming up to speed on cloud computing issues, get them on the phone with me before breakfast. And, if you don’t think you need legal representation in cloud computing efforts, get ready to be deposed.

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Daryl C. Plummer
Managing VP & Gartner Fellow
18 years at Gartner
35 years IT industry

Daryl Plummer is vice president, chief of Research and chief Gartner Fellow. Mr. Plummer manages the Gartner Fellows Program, which is designed to allow senior analysts the opportunity to explore new research ideas and to elevate… Read Full Bio


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