Hidden complexities of cloud computing


Cloud services are a vital part of today’s mobility – many of us now want to access any of our data from every one of our devices, all the time, wherever we are. To do this, data has moved off our personal devices into the cloud. All this complexity is hidden from the user, and the global nature of the market provides keen competition.

Costs for cloud-based services are, by and large, cheap, and in some cases the services are free at the point of use. Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it?

Whenever I am offered something that is free, especially when it comes to the cloud, understanding the business model has never been more important. I have decided that I am prepared to let Google harvest my internet activity in return for the benefit of my using Google Drive and similar cloud-based services. But does every user understand the choices they are making?


With the complexity hidden from the user, data may be stored under foreign legal jurisdictions, potentially allowing governments and other organisations access to certain aspects of users’ personal lives. When was the last time you read and really understood the “end user licence agreement” before you clicked “I accept”?

For small businesses, how do they know their data is safe? Am I breaching data protection legislation if I put my company’s personnel data into the cloud? What happens to my data if the internet startup I contracted with goes out of business?

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