Mike West, VP and Distinguished Analyst, Saugatuck Technology

Have all the data breaches at Sony and RSA etc. set back the cloud evolution?

I'd answer that by saying that traditional brands like Sony, as opposed to [Internet brands] like Amazon or Salesforce, seem to display hubris about their technical abilities and aren't as tuned in to the risk. Many traditional companies right now have functionality well ahead of their scenario planning. You simply cannot do that in the cloud if you are concerned with sustaining major brand damage, which we've plainly seen.

Sony, for example, seemed unable to respond even though they are a very large corporation with lots of resources.

What went wrong with Sony is not that they were cracked, because anybody can be cracked. What went wrong with them is they didn't anticipate something like this happening. They hadn't developed scenarios for what to do when the unthinkable occurs and they didn't know how to contain the problem. Then they tried to stall and deny it though they had to know everybody would find out about it eventually. That's a strange part of human nature that just keeps repeating.

Yet Amazon and SaaS providers have experienced awkward downtime though they are the best networkers out there.

Everyone is working out the kinks and we have to remember we're fairly early in the game. But I think newer brands like Amazon are more careful. When they did fail they came back pretty quickly, made no excuses and did a much better job handling a bad situation. When Salesforce has an outage, they're utterly transparent, they tell you what servers are down and when they'll be back. The new brands have brand equity to build and they have been very conscientious about contingency plans for their customers.

How do you think the big business providers like IBM or Microsoft running all sorts of futurist cloud advertising on TV are taking this? Is there a credibility problem?

I would agree that there is potential for cognitive dissonance. Microsoft and IBM have seen how Amazon, versus Sony, handled their problems and this creates some uncertainty for them. In truth, both companies have been somewhat reticent about the cloud in the public space. Microsoft has their R&D and the Azure platform and infrastructure as a service. IBM has its Blue Cloud, a number of R&D projects and products for the enterprise. But they might be breathing easy and glad it wasn't them, and they might take another look at their messaging.

Don't you think private enterprise is going to devalue risk and push for projects that make them more agile and help lower cost?

They also need to think about liability or deferred revenue when a system goes down whether it's their own or someone else's. It all needs to be accounted for. Some companies are moving pretty fast and should remember there is nothing that can't be compromised. Time, resources and ingenuity can crack any puzzle and so if somebody really wants to get you, they will. You need to consider that ahead of time and what might result.