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Cloud fallout continues from Amazon-WikiLeaks kerfuffle

The cloud computing market is still feeling the after effects of Amazon Web Services pulling the plug on WikiLeaks three years ago.

When one director of IT looks back at the cloud market, he still hears echoes of the unresolved Amazon-WikiLeaks cloud controversy from three years ago.

In 2010, Amazon Web Services (AWS) famously terminated its contract with WikiLeaks, an organization known for revealing the contents of top-secret documents tied to U.S. national security. Chris Steffen, director of IT for Magpul Industries Corp., a firearms dealer in Boulder, Colo., told SearchCloudComputing the after effects are still being felt -- and that the cloud computing market is nowhere near a resolution.

What cloud computing projects are on the docket for 2014? What problems will they solve?

Chris Steffen: Disaster recovery [DR] and cloud-based telephony. We are in the process of moving our corporate headquarters, and implementing a cloud-based telephony system will make the migration seamless and extremely affordable. Disaster recovery is a significant project that the company has never undertaken, and cloud-based solutions make the DR possibilities much more palatable to C-level executives.

Were there any particular cloud trends or stories you followed closely in 2013?

Steffen: There is still fallout from the AWS decision to pull WikiLeaks from their cloud offering after they were contacted by the government in 2010.

There is still fallout from the AWS decision to pull WikiLeaks from their cloud offering after they were contacted by the government in 2010.

Chris Steffen, director of IT for Magpul Industries Corp.

The problem, as you can imagine, is that this action was viewed by some as a sign that if Amazon, a cloud provider, or the government, does not like what you are using a cloud service for, with little or no warning, they can shut you down.

Since this happened, there have been continued discussions in many blogs and such about the contract language necessary to provide a level of comfort to someone interested in using a cloud based provider so they do not experience the same fate as WikiLeaks. Please understand that I am not condoning Snowden or Assange … but it establishes some interesting precedents and case law in the cloud space. And, in my opinion, it needs to be resolved before some companies will be willing to embrace cloud computing.

We are nowhere near a resolution, by the way. And likely will not be for several more years.

What do you hope will happen in cloud computing in 2014?

Steffen: More niche cloud offerings primarily based on regulatory and compliance concerns; this is what I have wanted for several years now. There have been major strides in this arena in 2013, but there's lots of room for improvement.

Microsoft and AWS understand the necessity of conforming to standards. Most have received a SSAE-16 Type II report; some are embracing the ISO 27001 standard. As cloud data centers conform to these standards -- and have the reports available to prove it -- the more highly regulated companies will be able to convince their audit and legal counsels that cloud computing is a viable option.

What do you hope won't happen in cloud computing in 2014?

Steffen: A trend that I continue to see evolving is that the big software shops are of the opinion that the cloud is the only answer for everything. Interesting concept, but certainly not true. I do not want to see the small and medium business market forced into cloud scenarios because they have no other choice.

Beth Pariseau is senior news writer for Write to her at or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.

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