The Google attacks from China are a bit different than past attacks in that it's pretty clear where they came from. Moreover, instead of attacking government organizations, the perpetrators chose to lay into a U.S. corporation. Thus, this is perhaps the first well-documented case of a government attacking a U.S. company, which is very scary.The larger fear about this, during times when we're placing much of our data and processes on cloud-delivered platforms, is that the bad guys will begin to focus away from Gmail to the major SaaS and other cloud computing players. Perhaps they will grab customer lists or the sales reports from publically traded companies, instead of just e-mail. But, is this fear realistic?
I've worked at two cloud computing companies and have consulted with a dozen others, and I can tell you that these attacks are daily occurrences, mostly coming in from Brazil, not China. Moreover, anyone who runs a popular Web site often sees these types of attacks. Indeed, anything connected to the Internet, inside or outside of the enterprise, will see some sort of attack at some point in time. It's a systemic problem, and has been for some time. It's the price you pay for living in a connected universe.
However, if you think this will stifle cloud computing, don't tell Gartner. In a recent set of predictions they called for one in five businesses not owning or maintaining their own IT assets by 2012.
"The mass exodus away from physical IT assets, which will leave one in five businesses, or 20 percent, without IT assets, is being fueled by a number of factors including cloud computing and cloud-enabled services and virtualization, " according to Gartner, which issued its top IT predictions last week.
Gartner is counting on the fact that the economics of cloud computing will drive many toward cloud computing, perhaps shutting down data centers altogether. A prediction that indeed may come true, but I don't think it will happen by 2012.
So what does all this good and bad news for SaaS and cloud computing mean to the poor CIO who has to hitch his or her wagon to this technology? It's just a matter of looking at your own needs, and then weighing the opportunities and risks of SaaS and cloud computing. It may come as a surprise that, in many instances, SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS, are the wrong solutions for your IT infrastructure. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to this stuff, and the sooner we deal with that fact, and not the hype nor FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt), the better. In other words, the China attacks and the Gartner predictions will have very little to do with your success with SaaS and cloud computing.You would have to be living under a rock not to hear the news that China attempted to hack into several Gmail accounts of human rights activists... The next fear is that bad guys will begin to focus on the SaaS and other cloud computing players...