Desktops in the clouds?

I’m not sure this would work.  For Joe Home User, maybe.  But let’s think about this. 

We can’t even trust the cloud with spreadsheets.  Do we really want it to have low-level access on our systems?  While this might be able to be fixed (or limited), the second question follows:  will cloud computing ever be safe enough to pass muster for HIPAA, SOX, and the million other regulatory issues that surround enterprise-leve computing?

In addition to my consulting business, I work a day job in the IT department of a major medical equipment manufacturer.  We have strict regulations placed on our IT department regarding the privacy of our patients’ information.  If we can’t trust the intertubes with our personal finances, we definitely can’t trust it with handling access to our infrastructure, with thousands upon thousands of patient records, SSNs, and credit card numbers.

I find a lot of times that people get excited about a new technology without realizing the variety of different sectors of business and how they are run and regulated.  The home user can make the shift, but on the enterprise level (especially in the financial, insurance, or healthcare sectors, to name a few) things work differently.

I know, I know – the top minds in Silicon Valley can figure out how to make it secure.  But I have several questions again.  One, how long will that take, given that our technology changes daily (and how long will it stay that way)?  Two, by the time they figure it out, will we even be interested in cloud computing?  And three, how can this desktop paradigm ever be efficiently regulated in the world scene?  I just don’t see this happening. 

But hey, prove me wrong – convince me that cloud computing is reliable, maintainable, scalable, and secure, and get it through the regulatory gauntlet.  I’ve got no real objections, if it can be done.

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