Cloud Computing, ownership matters

CheckIn the past fifteen years, many internal IT departments of enterprises evolved from artisan organizations that only assembled and provided customized, tailor-made products, to hybrid craft and mass production organizations that provides custom as well as standard products. But nowadays these IT departments are confronted with external organizations that deliver standard services and products that can be easily adapted to the needs of the customer based on the concept of “mass customization”.

Instead of buying, owning, and managing all kinds of IT components by your self, nowadays the IT infrastructure is offered as a service by means of cloud computing.

There is a shift from “goods dominant logic” to a “service dominant logic”, were the focus is shifting away from tangibles and toward intangibles. This trend is supported by the use of virtualization technology for server, storage and network devices and also for applications.

The cloud computing offering of lower costs, shorter time to market, and on demand provisioning makes it very tempting for organizations to outsource their IT infrastructure and services.

But don’t we forget something? One of the most important things of information processing is that an organization has the right controls over the use of applications, data and infrastructure. Incomplete control can lead to all kinds of issues about business obligations and liabilities.

The control of these items is arranged by contracts, which is in fact an exchange of property rights. These property rights are a bit complicated because they have several dimensions:

  • The right of possession
  • The right of control
  • The right of exclusion (access rights)
  • The right of enjoyment (earn income from it)
  • The right of disposition (buying or selling)

The consequence of these different dimensions is that different parties are able to hold partitions of rights to particular elements of a resource. On top of this there is the issue of legislation. When we talk about ownership we have to be careful because in legal systems ownership is based on tangible/physical objects. And yes of course, we have legislation about intellectual property, trademarks, etc. but when it comes to virtualized objects it becomes murky. Also cloud computing is about delivering services (intangibles) not about goods (tangibles).

The transition from “goods dominant logic” to a “service dominant logic” is a mind shift where the “bundle of rights” or property ownership still matters.

Signing cloud computing deals is not only about money and provisioning it is also about control. When a cloud computing sourcing deal is taking place the partitions of property rights should be grouped into appropriate bundles to stay in control.

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