Industry puts some rules around clouds

The term ''cloud computing'' has featured in Mackline for more years than this writer cares to remember. But significant changes to why more New Zealand companies are likely to move to the cloud emerged last week.

In simple terms, the cloud means individuals or companies handing over their data and systems for someone else to look after.

For individuals with email accounts such as Hotmail, Outlook Gmail, Yahoo! and anything else free, your data is being hosted by someone else.

For companies, the risk is much greater and chief executive of the Institute of IT Professionals, Paul Matthews, says ''trust'' is one of the most cited reasons companies choose not to move to the Cloud.

''If you hand over your precious data and systems to someone else you have to be able to trust they know what they're doing, have proper systems in place and aren't just taking you for a ride.''

New Zealand's Cloud Computing Code of Practice, or CloudCode as it is now known, was established to build trust in the cloud industry by identifying a broad range of disclosures that ''good'' cloud computing providers should make to their users to allow for informed consent.

Last week, CloudCode v2.0 was released. Mr Matthews said the release was a significant milestone and put New Zealand's cloud industry at the forefront globally, while paving the way for international adoption.

The code was developed by the cloud computing industry and other stakeholders. More than 250 cloud companies and individuals had contributed to its development, with the institute facilitating the development of the code, he said.

CloudCode outlined a range of disclosures that cloud computing providers should make to users of their services.

Signatories to the code agreed to make those disclosures for their products and services and agreed not to participate in ''cloud-washing'', or falsely claiming products met the accepted definition of cloud computing.

There were specific and significant benefits from genuine cloud products or services but, unfortunately, some unscrupulous providers tried to pass non-cloud products or services off as cloud computing, Mr Matthews said.

The CloudCode is voluntary and does not prescribe what cloud providers must have in place but it does require that signatories are open and transparent with their customers.

'' This latest version is a major step forward and readies the CloudCode for the release of the Register of CloudCode signatories next month, prepares the code for international adoption, releases the quality market for CloudCode signatories and clarifies a number of other areas,'' Mr Matthews said.

Xero chief executive Rod Drury was among several praising the development of the code.

''It's great to see New Zealand leading the world in the transition to the cloud. The interest from overseas parties in what we're doing here has been great for our local industry which is leading the charge in responsible cloud practices.''

Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff welcomed the release of the code. She said it was important for consumers considering cloud computing to understand and assess the risks involved and make sound judgements.

By setting a standard for local cloud providers to follow, the code made sure that participating providers would give the right information to consumers to help them make good decisions.

''This is a very positive initiative from the institute and I hope it will be widely adopted,'' Ms Shroff said.

Mr Matthews said consultation had started on the Australian adoption of CloudCode, with the Australian Federal Government and the Australian Computer Society working with the New Zealand institute.

Twitter: @mackersline