ON A Thursday afternoon early last month an e-mail with the subject line "eTenders – Cloud Computing Warning" began to arrive in the inbox of public servants.Previously on this blog: 1|2
Sent by the National Public Procurement Operations Unit, which operates the Government’s electronic tendering website, eTenders, the brief communication said the Chief State Solicitor’s Office had advised "that issues such as data protection, confidentiality and security and liability are not necessarily dealt with in a manner that would be necessary for public-sector responsibilities" by cloud services.
The e-mail was quickly forwarded around Ireland’s technology industry. Not only are companies such as Microsoft, IBM and HP investing millions into research centres and data centres here to support the new model of delivering software and other services over the internet, but Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan last year identified cloud computing as one of six "pillars" that would drive the creation of a smart economy.
In fact, Ryan is understood to have been extremely annoyed at the message being sent out, and his advisers have moved to soothe the nerves of some of the major technology multinationals based here.
While not renowned for its technology expertise, one of the roles of the Chief State Solicitor’s Office is to review commercial agreements for public bodies before they sign them.
"They must have reviewed a contract which wasn’t up to scratch and now they have concluded all cloud contracts are like this," says Philip Nolan, a partner in legal firm Mason Hayes + Curran who specialises in technology contracts. "It’s a totally disproportionate reaction and the IT industry is recoiling in shock."
Nolan equates the advice given by the Chief State Solicitor’s Office to someone saying 12 years ago "don’t buy anything using e-commerce because it’s not secure".
Describing the e-mail as "damaging", Ed Byrne, general manager of Hosting365, a local firm that provides a platform to support cloud computing, says eTenders should have instead "outlined the questions that need to be asked before buying a cloud service".
According to Byrne, this would have included questions such as where is the service based, who is the supplier, how much money can it save and what levels of support can be expected.
Friday, March 05, 2010
Cloud computing controversy won't clear
It seems as though the controversy caused by the Chief State Solicitor's advice about purchasing cloud computing just won't go away. John Collins has an update in today's Irish Times. Here's an excerpt: