Cloud Costs for Government Could Rise

Keeping Data Stateside Isn't the Most Economical Approach
Cloud computing for governments in the United States, especially services tailored for the federal government, may not be as efficient or as cheap as many would hope, says Richard Falkenrath, a principal with the security consultancy The Chertoff Group.

"Part of the appeal of a cloud architecture is the efficiency that comes from scale and locating your services where they are cheapest," Falkenrath says in an interview with Information Security Media Group. "As you become more and more conservative on security and safety and sovereignty of the data, you deny yourself the ability to pursue that."

Limiting data to cloud computing servers located only within the United States means federal, state and local governments can't leverage cloud architectures built around consumer needs, driving costs higher, too.

"An architecture that might be just fine for consumers won't work at all for a government enterprise if the vendors of cloud services have to build simply separate architectures as yet another source of diseconomy in cloud computing," said Falkenrath, a former deputy commissioner for counterterrorism for the New York City police department.

In the interview, Falkenrath also discusses:

  • Problems court decisions, whether domestically or abroad, present in defining privacy and security standards for cloud computing.
  • Law in other nations that approach privacy and security differently than they are treated in the United States, and the dilemma that presents.
  • Steps the Obama administration and Congress should take to address uncertainty about cloud service offerings to governments.

Falkenrath, earlier this month, posted an article entitled "The Cloud and the Courts" on the website, which he addresses in the podcast.

At the Chertoff Group, founded by former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Falkenrath advises clients on an array of homeland and national security issues relating to counterterrorism, law enforcement, physical and digital network security and risk management. He is a contributing editor at Bloomberg News and adjunct senior fellow for counterterrorism and homeland security at the Council on Foreign Relations. Falkenrath also is a member of the Director's Review Committee of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Defense Threat Reduction Advisory Committee and Aspen Strategy Group.

Falkenrath held a number of national security positions in the George W. Bush administration. He is a graduate of Occidental College, with degrees in economics and international relations, and holds a Ph.D. from the Department of War Studies at King's College London.

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