blog The University of New South Wales’s widely respected Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre has published what I would consider to be a very useful whitepaper investigating data sovereignty issues related to cloud computing in the Australian context. I’ve read through the document, which you can download for free here in PDF format, and I think it’s safe to say that this represents solid work. It’s sponsored by datacentre operator NEXTDC, law firm Baker & McKenzie and insurer AON, but I didn’t detect any perceptible bias towards on-shore or offshore cloud computing in the document. Rather, what I detected was what I believe is one of the most useful cloud computing backgrounders I’ve seen produced in Australia to date. I particularly note some of the whitepaper’s conclusions:
“We started noting the discomfort that consideration of the complexities of data sovereignty and cloud data management can sometimes cause, and the tempting call of the ‘too hard’ basket.
We have shown how you can analyse the various technical, legal and business issues in turn, and then develop a range of actions that can both reduce the risk of a cloud data disaster, and at the same time increase the value of your information assets. Hopefully by now, you will have come to the conclusion that it is not all too hard.
Some data may happily be hosted almost anywhere or by anyone, while other data may have features which require consideration of location and jurisdiction. But if you have full visibility of data collection, storage and use processes for other purposes, you may well have most of the information at hand needed to make these decisions and implement them. You need only go into a little more detail than we have covered here to ensure that the specific circumstances of your situation are properly taken into account along with the general principles we describe.”
In short, the paper concludes, very sensibly, that cloud computing as a technology paradigm has moved beyond black and white labels over storing data in the cloud, to more discrete analysis of what data can be stored where and under what conditions. It should be obvious to everyone in Australia’s IT industry by now that the cloud computing class of technologies (Software as a Service, Platform as a Service, Storage as a Service and so on and so on) are useful. But you need to apply them judiciously rather than adopting cloud wholesale in every area of your organisation. This whitepaper by UNSW represents a useful toolkit in approaching that concept.