An uncomfortable question: Does the cloud provider actually matter?

By Julian Box

Today, even the most ardent naysayers are coming out and proclaiming cloud as the only way to do computing. This is especially true in my own jurisdiction of Jersey in the Channel Islands.

With technology suppliers suddenly telling you to use cloud, does it really matter which one you use, who owns the service provider, and where it stores your data? The quick answer to all three questions is ‘yes’ – but let’s look at each one:

Is there a difference between cloud service providers?

This question is probably thought about the least. There are people and suppliers that believe only the large cloud providers can be trusted, but how true is that?

Take Amazon and Microsoft. They’re the largest cloud providers in the world today, having multiple data centres around the world with thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of customers. However, they have one big, often overlooked issue — they are lock-in clouds. Sure, they have some great technology, but once you start using it, you can’t get out.

Their technology is designed to be proprietary — you have to use them and only them. Whether you use Microsoft’s Azure or Amazon’s AWS, their tools, utilities and APIs only work in their clouds. If you want to move, it will cost you so much money that it becomes prohibitively expensive to leave.

Most companies moved away from technology lock-in years ago, as it hinders creativity and innovation, while ending up costing more in the longer run. Look for a provider that is technology independent, providing the flexibility to move in and out of its cloud services without penalty.

Who owns the cloud service provider?

Does it matter whether they are based in the US rather than the EU, or offshore? Currently this is a very grey area and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

US-based cloud service providers are at the heart of several outstanding court cases in the EU. Microsoft is trying to stop a US government warrant against them for data held in Ireland (they have already lost the initial case and one appeal). The European Court is currently reviewing whether the Safe Harbor agreement (the agreement that the US and EU work under so that data on EU citizens held by US companies meets EU regulations) is still fit for its purpose.

Currently the best advice from legal experts is to not use non-EU owned cloud providers or use a locally based provider within your jurisdiction until these issues are resolved.

Does it matter where data is stored?

There are several reasons why data residency is fundamentally important. Firstly, most countries have laws about where you can store data, especially data that includes personal information. To ensure you meet these regulations, the best advice is —again—to make sure data is locally held within your jurisdiction or in the EU.

For offshore-specific businesses, most jurisdictions don’t have a legal requirement to keep data offshore, but many businesses will have client data that needs to stay offshore for compliance reasons, let alone client perception reasons. And then there is the very large and looming issue of the soon to be implemented new EU Data Protection law that will be putting enormous new burdens on businesses around data held on EU citizens.

This new law will also be coming to jurisdictions such as Jersey, as they will be required to have broadly the same laws in place to be able to trade with EU countries. This new law will also have a massive impact on US-based providers that will have to abide by the new rules, as well, simply having a data centre in an EU country will no longer suffice.

Going forward

These examples are just scratching the surface. There are many reasons that choosing the right cloud provider is a critical decision and shouldn’t be undertaken without the due consideration it deserves.

With so many options, don’t be fooled into thinking that all technology suppliers are suddenly experts in cloud or that all service providers offer true cloud computing with free movement of data. And, with the laws around data protection changing rapidly, be certain that your service provider isn’t going to compromise your data protection obligations.

Finally, select a provider that truly understands cloud, security and data protection and places them at the heart of their offerings — ultimately a provider you can trust.

148% more ‘Child Sexual Abuse Material’ uncovered by the Irish Internet Hotline

On 14th May 2015 ISPAI Service launched its Annual Report covering January to December 2014 – an Analysis of Online Illegal Content – during a press event hosted in Dublin, at the Irish Architectural Archive.

In her opening addressed Frances Fitzgerald T.D., Minister for Justice and Equality emphasised that “ contributes to the empowerment of citizens by providing a means to report illegal material and in particular Child Sexual Abuse Material on the Internet and to have it dealt with appropriately in cooperation with the Gardaí.”

2014 was a very busy year for as it dealt with the greatest number of reports received in one year since its establishment (1999), marking a massive jump of 97% above the average of the previous seven years.

“Had we not made an sizeable investment starting in mid-2013 to redevelop our systems to better automate the workflow, we would have been totally overwhelmed by this unexpected increase in reporting. We are proud to be part of this solution to tackle Online CSAM and we are glad that the public trusts the Service enough to report suspected illegal content. More reports result in more new images / videos being taken down at source and brought to the attention of Law Enforcement for police investigation”, commented Paul Durrant Chief Executive of ISPAI and Manager.

Of the 4,863 reports received and processed in 2014, 335 cases were confirmed by Hotline Analysts as CSAM, which marks an increase of 148% over 2013. Only 9 CSAM cases were traced to Ireland, 222 were traced and forwarded to the INHOPE Internet Hotline in the appropriate jurisdictions for action and 21 were traced to countries outside the INHOPE network and dealt with via Law Enforcement channels.

“Recognition of the value of cross-agency cooperation has been further demonstrated with the creation of the INHOPE / INTERPOL BIK-NET IC-CAM project. Although still in the pilot phase, the initial results are very promising with clear gains in victim identification work combined with the reduction of duplication of effort and enhanced communications supported by joint training” commented Michael Moran – Assistant Director, Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation, INTERPOL.

Other forms of illegal content identified by in 2014 were 20 cases of financial nature, 1 case of Child Grooming activities and 2 cases promotion violence against individual.

The collective national and international efforts to tackle the Online distribution of CSAM are forcing paedophiles to constantly find new ways to avoid detection. One of the findings that confirms and supports this observation is the unprecedented number of .onion reports. The data shows the “journey” starting either in a chatroom, forum or link site. These services are misused as gateways to .onion resources or cyberlockers containing CSAM images and/or videos.


Note: The full Annual Report covering January to December 2014 will be made available Online @

Selecting The Right European Country for your Data Centre

It’s important to take into account where you locate your IT infrastructure, especially if you’re expanding your business into Europe for the first time. Connectivity, power, security, scalability… As if there wasn’t enough to think about when considering a new data centre, but with many cultural, political, financial, language and regulatory differences throughout the continent your decision is fraught with pitfalls and complexities.

In this infographic, based on our whitepaper produced by Interxion, they have attempted to concisely highlight some of the key criteria any business should consider when looking to deploy their infrastructure in a new country.

This infographic won’t tell you everything, but it will serve as a great guide to start your research.

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Cloud Computing market to hit nearly US$20bn in three years……………

Cloud computing market revenue will jump at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 36pc to just about US$20bn at the end of 2016. However, challenges still surround public cloud adoption, a study by 451 Research suggests.

“Cloud computing is on the upswing and demand for public cloud services remains strong,” said Yulitza Peraza, analyst, Quantitative Services, 451 Research and co-author of the Cloud as-a-Service overview report.

“However, public cloud adoption continues to face hurdles, including security concerns, transparency and trust issues, workload readiness and internal non-IT-related organisational issues.”

The report reveals that infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) accounted for most of the total market revenue in 2012, with more than half of the total public cloud market share, and a 37pc CAGR through 2016.

Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) made up 24pc of the total public cloud revenue last year. The report also indicates PaaS will experience the fastest growth, at a projected CAGR of 41pc between 2012 and 2016.

The infrastructure software-as-a-service (SaaS) sector, which does not include enterprise SaaS revenue, represented 25pc of total cloud revenue in 2012 and is expected to generate a 29pc CAGR through 2016.