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Microsoft hosts bring-a-bottle cloud trust code of practice party

Show me the trade body

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Analysis Blighty’s cloud computing industry now has a trade body that wants to champion trust in data stored at a tech firm’s outhouse, by getting vendors to commit to certification that, by mid-2011, will be independently scrutinised. We just don't know by whom - yet.

Step forward the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF), which this week was a guest at Microsoft’s UK headquarters in Victoria, London, where the group was showing off its soon-to-be launched code of practice for the cloud computing biz sector.

Trade bodies in that field are burgeoning as IT channel players begin to recognise that cloud computing isn’t a fad, but instead is here to stay.

Yet despite many resellers now admitting defeat and getting with the cloud programme, some are still rightly nervous about the processes involved. After all, they’re listening to customers, many of whom remain resoutely wary about the technology.

CIF wants to help change those perceptions by convincing IT vendors to sign up to its code of practice, which will be launched next month.

It’s asking small and large tech firms to pledge allegiance to the code by offering reassurances around data location security, portability of contracts and transparency about who is behind a given service, what risks could be involved, and who ultimately controls the infrastructure.

The idea being that consumer confidence will grow in cloud computing only if tech firms, in effect, self-regulate their service.

“It’s all about focusing on trust between the end user and the supplier,” said CIF chairman and Fasthosts boss Andy Burton.

Indeed, the body’s desire to get companies to sign up to such a code of practice will probably be seen as a noble one.

But will the likes of Google, Salesforce and apparent CIF friend Microsoft be willing to cheaply give away their commercial terms in a software industry shifting from a lock-in licence model to one that might have similar aspirations for the cloud?

“You’ll have to ask them,” Burton told El Reg.

“I can’t speak for any one individual company but, am I optimistic and hopeful that very large global players will sign up? Absolutely, yes I am. Do I think our success is predicated on if they do or don’t join us? No I don’t. The nature of the cloud is about opening it up for everyone," said Burton.

But that in many ways remains the biggest hurdle. The UK’s current IT policy, last tweaked by Whitehall’s previous incumbents in January this year, remains bereft of a regulator; the cloud industry itself is bitching over standards; and in the middle of it all stand the perplexed customers who are squinting their eyes to read the small print.

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