C L O U D C O M P U T I N G: Worry over data security, infrastructure at ISPON meet

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By Emeka Aginam

Unless issues around data security, infrastructure, jurisdiction and legislation, compliance, ownership of data, among others were resolved urgently, Nigeria’s quest for the adoption of cloud computing in the 21st century knowledge society may remain just that — a quest.

These were the fears expressed by participants at the just concluded Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria, (ISPON) national conference and competition held at Tinapa Business Resort, Calabar, Cross R Major concerns of the stakeholders was who owns the data in the cloud, even as policy implications of the new technology may appear endless but given the potential impact of cloud computing, these questions, according to the participants will not remain unanswered. The question, according to the participants is when and how.

Although cloud computing offers enormous storage with improved scalability and elasticity with much cheaper solutions to deploy IT services, speaker after speaker during panel session at the event with the theme, ‘the cloud and future of software Nigeria’ that attracted capacity audience especially from the student community noted that the country must be well prepared before adopting the new technology which is becoming the toast of IT community.

ISPON President, Chris Uwaje, earlier in his welcome address told the gathering cloud computing was here even with many challenges.

Cloud as battle field

The solution distributed on the internet, according to Uwaje may be the beginning of the great shape of things to come and indeed the basis of the very interactive web 2.0. According to him, as these tools become  more powerful, they were playing an increasingly important role in our lives. This he said, makes the cloud perhaps the most critical knowledge battle field and survivability strategy for mankind in the 21st century.

“The cloud economy is fast becoming a reality and future generations will experience its awesome power when the emerging design and architecture of our planetary digital spider-wed is complete. And by extension, the interfacing links to universal intercloud of planetary information system activated and put in motion. It is something we must embrace as time is running out,” he said.

In his remarks, Governor of Cross River State, Senator, Liyel Imoke restated his commitment to building capacity for students, adding that adequate regulatory framework must be put in place to ensure safe adoption of the new technology. According to Imoke who assured that the state will host the software competition for five years running, regulatory frame work must meet international standards so as to protect security of data.

From left: Dr Chris Uwajem, Ms Funke Opeke, Sir Demola Aladekomo;  Senator Liyel Imoke; Prof. Cleopas Angaye; Mrs Omobola Johnson, and  Dr Ernest Ndukwe, and others at ISPON’s National Software at Tinapa Business Resort, Calabar, Cross River State.  Photo: Emeka Aginam.

He said that Cross River was determined to be the ICT hub of Nigeria, adding that necessary infrastructures were being put in place to make this work. According to him, his government is committed to building a credible and sustainable framework for software development in Nigeria.

Challenges

Acknowledging that the conference will help to discover local software talents among the students, the Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson in her address during the event  said that the Nigerian software industry has grown over the years to produce local and regional brands like HumanManager, Xceed, Progenis and Symbols among others.

She was optimistic that with proper legislation, infrastructure among others, Nigeria will join the rest of other economies to reap the benefits of cloud computing but added that there should be IT governance model to ensure a secured computing environment.

Jurisdiction and regulation

For the Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA), Professor  Cleopas Angaye, cloud computing could not have come at a better time than now when the Nigerian ICT sector is growing at a rate of 30% but noted that since the technology transcends location of both processing and storage, many questions abound on where  the boundary is between cloud and users and how do we regulate.

According to the NITDA boss, cloud privacy and security law must be put in place, otherwise user data may fall into hands of their enemies. He told the gathering that the technology is good for Nigeria just like other countries are adopting it but expressed concerns over the dangers associated with it.

Ownership of data

The cloud model, according to Angaye, has been criticized by some privacy advocate companies hosting the cloud services control.

“Instances such as secret NASA program working with AT&T and which recorded over 10 million phone calls between American citizens, causes uncertainty among privacy advocates  and the greater powers it gives to telecommunication companies to monitor user security” he said, adding that using a cloud service prover can complicate virtualization for cloud processing and cloud storage used to implement.

Compliance:

In order to comply with regulations, Angaye further informed that cloud computing users may have to adopt community or hybrid deployment models that were typically more expensive and may offer more restricted benefits.

Infrastructure:

While students at the conference raised issue of lack of internet facilities at their campuses,  the  Chairman of the panel session, Dr Ernest Ndukwe who is also the Nigeria software ambassador raised alarm saying that there was need for every Nigerian institution of higher learning to have broadband infrastructure for a better cloud computing environment.

According to Ndukwe, the future of cloud computing lies with the younger generations, whom he believed are the leaders of tomorrow.

Noting that that the technology represents a breakthrough development strategies which has the potential of revolution, Ndukwe who is passionate about youth empowerment told the gathering cloud computing must start with the student community. Any government that fails to make broadband access as a priority may not survive the knowledge economy, he added.

According to Ndukwe, the cloud environment can only be sustained if broadband internet facilities were deployed across the country especially, in the institutions of higher learning.

As the Chairman of the Presidential Committee on broadband, he assured that Nigeria will overcome the challenges associated with broadband.

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