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Stefan Huegel
Stefan Huegel (42) has been Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Computerwoche magazine since 2010.
He is also responsible for the strategic development of IDG Business Media’s Internet presence.

“It all begins with trust"

A leading German bank adopted this phrase as its advertising slogan in the early 90s. When viewed under the harsh light of the recent financial and euro crisis, that may seem a little incongruous. But building trust remains important. Especially at the start of something new.
Stefan Huegel
This not only holds true in the financial world: it is equally applicable to the IT industry. Having said that, cloud computing providers are still trying to wow users with hard facts, rather than attempting to win hearts and minds by inspiring trust. They promise increased flexibility, lower maintenance costs, and more time for core competencies.
Looked at rationally, there is certainly an argument for transferring data and services to the cloud. And the general paradigm shift in enterprise IT toward outsourcing large parts of the value chain should work in cloud providers’ favor.
But the reality is very different. Despite the exuberance surrounding the cloud, there is a serious mismatch between the technological possibilities and users’ real-world interests. To date, very few businesses have actually transferred their mission-critical data and services to the cloud.
If you are familiar with the age-old dilemma facing IT executives, you will understand why. CIOs are constantly in a quandary: they need to accelerate and streamline their business by delivering new solutions and efficient infrastructures. But they also have to take a host of internal, regulatory and legal requirements into account. In these changing times, IT decision-makers need to keep their cool, be wary of the hype, but not stand in the way of innovation. The crux is to find out what technologies can best support the business – without exposing it to risk.
Potential cloud converts expect clarity in terms of their legal situation, flexibility and cost efficiency. What’s more, they want providers to shoulder a hefty share of the responsibility.
In an ideal world, users would expect providers to be at least partly responsible for compliance with security and legal requirements, and to back this up with watertight SLAs. But only now are the large players beginning to draw up compliant security and data-protection concepts for the cloud. This creates doubt, not trust.
What’s more, many cloud offerings are still lacking in flexibility. They are often off-the-peg. So, instead of tailored advice and support, users get highly standardized products and services that have to meet the imperatives of a diverse set of customers, and seldom fulfill company-specific requirements. This creates disappointment, not trust.
And when it comes to costs, users are inundated with promises that cloud computing eases pressure on IT budgets and embraces pay-as-you-go pricing models. But the lack of concrete success stories only serves to increase the doubt.
That is why this year’s CeBIT theme, Managing Trust, hits the nail on the head, describing the challenge of winning businesses over to the cloud. Providers need to supply answers, to banish doubts and build trust. Because it all begins with trust. So the German bank was right after all.
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