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Will NSA Surveillance and Security Threats Inhibit Your Cloud Collaboration Plans?

When Edwin Snowden revealed the National Security Agency's covert surveillance of communications with the cooperation of the largest service providers, it validated what many cynics and security experts presumed as fact. But the leaks outlining blatant surveillance by companies including Verizon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft, among others caught the large universe of IT decision makers off guard.

As my colleague Chris Paoli and I have noted since the June leaks, many organizations were alarmed to read reports that the NSA could access data stored in the public cloud even though the U.S. government has insisted it was only doing so to track suspected terrorist activities overseas. The revelations also came as a growing number of organizations were starting to use Microsoft's Office 365 and SharePoint Online.

In wake of the reports, many organizations have pulled their cloud deployments back in house. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a Washington, D.C. think tank, said cloud providers in North America alone stand to lose between $21.5 billion to $35 billion in revenues by 2016 after it came out the NSA was invoking the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act (FISA) and the Patriot Act for programs such as PRISM to obtain and mine data to investigate suspected threats.

I don't believe the damage will be that severe, though. A survey of Redmond magazine's readership last month revealed many shops are cloud migration plans on hold, while many are retreating from those under way.  According to our online survey of 300 readers, 35 percent are putting planned projects on hold in wake of the NSA leaks while 13 percent brought cloud projects back in house.

That and other findings from the survey are the basis of our October cover story, which we'll be publishing next week.

But given the large universe of SharePoint administrators, developers and users who make up the readership of Redmond magazine, many decision makers are having new reservations over whether to run SharePoint and other collaboration and enterprise social media tools in the cloud. So when Christian Buckley, the SharePoint MVP evangelist at Metalogix, invited me to participate in a Tweetjam on Security and Cloud Collaboration, I was happy to participate. It takes place Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT.  If you can't make it, you can review the comments at your leisure.

Participating on the Tweetjam are a number of SharePoint MVPs including Antonio Maio, (@antonionmaio2), product manager at TITUS and SharePoint MVP, Eric Riz, (@rizinsights), executive vice president at Concatenate and SharePoint MVP, Tom Resing, (@resing), systems engineer at Jive and SharePoint MCM and MVP, Michael Greth (@mysharepoint), SharePoint specialist and community leader, SharePoint MVP. Buckley, who has organized the Tweetjam, outlined in a blog post the questions it will cover:

  • Are most organization ready to move to the cloud?
  • Did the NSA data breach in the US by Snowden affect your near or long-term plans for the cloud?
  • What are the key risks with moving to the cloud, and what can companies do to mitigate them?
  • Which workloads are most effective in the cloud?
  • How can Microsoft make their cloud options more viable?
  • What 3 things should companies prepare for in their move toward the cloud?
  • What are your cloud predictions for the next 2 to 3 years? 

If these are questions on your mind and you're free, join in the discussion and share your views. Just click here to participate. You can follow me on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 09/24/2013 at 3:42 PM


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