The use of cloud computing has increased rapidly in recent years, and for good reasons. Cloud services offer business leaders the ability to achieve two critical goals: better meet client’s needs and continuously improve operations. Given its far-reaching impact, cloud-based computing has moved quickly from the “would be nice to have” to the “must-have” category for organizations that want to stay competitive.
Challenges remain in this important area of technology. But with application of the right solutions, cloud computing continues to offer a bright future for businesses that invest in it for the long term.
I’ve had the privilege of playing a part in the worldwide adoption of cloud-based services over the past two decades. In my former role as a Microsoft executive, I had the opportunity to help build some of Microsoft’s most groundbreaking global business lines and platforms. Those include both Office 365 and Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform.
Azure played a crucial role in the cloud computing revolution. The platform now services more than 90% of the world’s top corporations and industries across a wide range of sectors, from health care and financial services to governance, gaming, entertainment, education, shipping, and more.
From my perspective working in this vital area of technology, I’ve seen what cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and digital transformation have to offer. My experiences also have allowed me to develop some informed advice on how both business and government leaders should approach the use of cloud computing.
The Benefits of the Cloud
Because of my years spent working with the cloud computing sector, I have experience building cloud computing solutions to meet the data residency and sovereignty concerns of governments, as well as secure hosting services needed by defense and intelligence agencies.
Thanks to this work, I’ve become something of an expert when it comes to building complex tech products and services, managing global teams of high-performance engineers, and leveraging the power of technology and innovation to solve some of the world’s most critical challenges.
Cloud computing supports technology that helps solve these challenges. They include the ability to: streamline automation and improve efficiency; facilitate big data analysis and data-driven decision-making, empower digital transformation that can lower costs; improve times to market, and expedite development of new tools, technologies, and services.
As someone who advocates for the benefits of the cloud, I believe it’s crucial to build systems on a foundation of trust, transparency and security. What are a few ways we can achieve this? The following looks at some fundamental topics for cloud service providers and policy leaders to consider.
Understanding Important Concepts Related to Cloud Computing
The first step involves understanding how the concepts of data sovereignty, digital independence, internet governance, and national data strategy relate to cloud computing.
Data sovereignty is the concept that the country or organization that generates data should own and control it. It’s become increasingly essential in the context of cloud computing, where users may store data in a remote location.
Digital independence is the concept that digital systems should be self-sustaining and capable of operating independently of any central authority. Internet governance involves setting and enforcing rules, regulations, and policies governing the use of the Internet. Finally, a national data strategy is a government-led initiative that sets out the principles, objectives, and actions for the collection, sharing, and analysis of data.
Both governments and businesses should contribute to the development of a national data strategy that ensures the collection, sharing, and analysis of data remain compliant with the country’s laws and regulations. To protect data, prevent breaches, manage access, and build effective partnerships between users and providers — irrespective of their size or the use case in question — I recommend the following actions.
Build industry-specific and use-case-specific protocols and encryption that meet users’ needs. Users can then review the offerings of providers and may consider using a trusted third-party certification system to determine if a given provider’s services are secure and reliable.
Implement data access, transfer, and management agreements with providers and users, including foreign states or agencies. Additionally, establish foolproof access control protocols that protect sensitive data via a data policy that defines how data is stored, shared, and accessed.
Audit and monitor cloud access, storage, and usage. Finally, have an incident response plan in place so that you can quickly and effectively respond to threats.
The Future of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing provides far too many benefits for businesses to ignore. The use of cloud-based services can lead to lower hardware and software costs, improved onboarding and scalability, and the development of industry-specific applications. It also can deliver reliable data sovereignty, localization, and protection capabilities, and it has vast military and national security applications.
Cloud computing also supports better remote work and collaboration while providing real-time analytics and insights. It can empower the rapid deployment of new services and features while delivering quick scalability and growth.
However, the use of cloud computing presents challenges. Those include inherent risks that, if not addressed properly, may drive some away from cloud-based services.
It’s the responsibility of providers to meet or exceed the data sovereignty, security, and localization needs of users. They must also provide opportunities for organizations to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and build and deploy the digital services and offerings that have helped drive much of the cloud-based technological change we have seen over the last decade.
The future is uncertain. Based on global events, some fear cloud services may rank among the first business investments to head to the chopping block. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. With the right blueprint in place, and by considering the recommendations I’ve offered, business and government leaders can ensure the continued value of cloud offerings for users around the world.