♫Some sunny day-hey baby
When everything seems okay, baby
You'll wake up and find out you're alone
Cause I'll be gone
Gone, gone, gone really gone…♫
The ABA Journal today published an article "Get Your Head in the Cloud" which states:
The early indications from ethics authorities are that storing client data in the cloud does not violate ethics rules, as long as the lawyer took appropriate steps to safeguard the information from inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure.
While I agree about taking 'reasonable precautions' with regard to security around the data (which depends on trusting your cloud provider to stay current with regard to appropriate security precautions) the article does not address one issue which I think has not been addressed by the cloud providers.
The question is: what happens if the cloud provider vanishes? Most would say, "No problem – we have a copy of our data with a third party 'safe harbour' data warehouser as arranged by the cloud provider before they vanished.
Assuming that you can then access your data…there is the issue of what do you do with that data? I assume that you will end up with a comma-delimited data set which presumably can be imported into Excel or such similar product.
But the data that you end up with will be a series of Excel spreadsheets…a 'flat file' database as it is known. But most cloud datasets will be relational databases that have as their utility, the links that exist between the data points. Those relational datasets depend on the marriage between the data and the proprietary application that brings that data to life. Unfortunately, one-half of that equation – the proprietary application – has just vanished with the disappearance of the cloud provider.
How do you recreate those linkages to make the data useful to you? Or how much $$ will you have to pay to have this dataset imported into a competitor's product that contains the full relational value of the data? And the consequential question: How long can your office wait without full access to the information contained in your data? After all, the cloud provider vanishing would be equivalent to a 911 hit on your business. Does this not raise potential malpractice concerns should you miss a filing data or court appearance as a result? The cloud provider is judgment-proof at this point – you are left on your own.
ABA TECHSHOW takes place this week in Chicago. I will be looking to the different cloud providers and see what they have designed to handle the possibility that one day they may be gone, gone gone…really gone…