Accessing The Real Risk Of Cloud Computing

Accessing the Real Risk of Cloud Computing: Is the Sky is Falling or are the Failures a Blip on the Radar Screen?

It’s interesting to follow the big money that big companies are spending. It’s a lot like watching a huge ocean liner set sail for exotic places or a stretch limousine glide though town. These oddities can’t help but be seen but I often wonder if anyone is really watching.

According to a Wall Street Journal article from last spring entitled, “The Sun Shines on The Cloud”  the research firm IDC reported 16 billion in cloud revenue for 2009 and projects a $73 billion investment to be made by 2015. The background of this article is Amazon’s partial cloud failure that kicked Netflix and a host of other customers off the network last June. Amazon explained and apologized and the headlines screamed panic.

At the time and even now Amazon continues with business as usual in the cloud. In Luchi’s Week In Review piece last week on Cloud Tweaks, he reported that Amazon is seeking to control the domain .cloud. The mammoth doesn’t seem very worried about power outages or security risks. Nor has Netflix run away from the cloud when the temporary hitch affected their business. Apparently these disruptions we hear about every now and then are a blip on the radar screen. The big guys are basing their future on the cloud while many remain skeptical and concerned about security. Why can’t smaller companies think like big companies? Perhaps fear holds them back, a fear we are not even aware of.

Fear Conditioning and Memory

Perhaps one of the things that separate big business cloud adoption from small business hesitation is a negative first time experience lodged in one’s memory that is now perceived as fact, also known as fear conditioning. Fear conditioning is the phenomenon that describes fears that develop when one’s initial harrowing experience with a situation is generalized to future related experiences.

If a dog bites a person at an early age they may respond fearfully with all dogs until they can overcome their fear. This happens in part by experiencing the fact that the vast majority of dogs do not bite. Likewise if an executive experiences a harrowing loss of data through a hardware failure he may, without thinking, react negatively to shifting some of his operations to the cloud as he associates this more efficient hypothetical prospect of the cloud with the much more familiar memory when a data loss happened on his watch.

Changing this situation involves reconsolidating one’s memory over time. Every time the memory of the dog bite is retrieved when a dog is presented and nothing bad happens, the fear becomes less and less. As the cloud proves its value over time more and more people will sign on. By then the big guys will be unto the next big thing and those of us who aren’t there yet will still be watching.

By Don Cleveland

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Although relatively new to technology writing Don Cleveland has been writing and working in the fields of business and psychology over the last 25 years. After earning his B.A. in psychology at the University of South Florida he has returned to finish an M.A. in counseling. His passions are shining psychology’s empirical light on the world of computing and work through research and writing.

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