Friday, September 18, 2009

Cloud computing

As the economy worsens, cities are looking to save money by switching to software as a service (SAAS) or cloud computing and ditching the old installation discs. But at what cost?

Surely there's an initial cost savings. But what about the long term costs?

CNET reports: "In Office Web, you don't share files, you share folders. So to share a spreadsheet, you first save it to a particular folder, and then share that folder with the people who you want to let into the file. That's no big deal if you're just sharing one file, but if you want to share different files with different groups of people, it's confusing and tedious, since you have to create a different folder for each set of people you want to share with. If you want to change the sharing specifics on one document in a folder but not others, you'll have to move the document to a different folder. This is a catastrophic design flaw. Worse, there's not even a clear "share" link. You have to find the "Shared with" entry in each folder, click on the "People I selected" link, then "Edit permissions," then enter the name of the person or people you want to share with, and then, once that person shows up in your sharing list, you have to change the default permission from "view" to "edit."

Some agencies have dedicated IT departments. Others hire IT out. I can't imagine the administrative nightmare of managing permissions as officers and detectives move in and out of assignments. Where's the security when your files are up in the aether? My guess is that folks will switch to stand-alone systems purchased outside the normal channels - saving their work product locally.

Like, the devil will be in the details.With all of the new e-discovery rules and laws, I can't imagine that this will be a step in the right direction. Only time will tell.

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