As govt resists public cloud, Fronde targets TIN 100

Fronde CEO Ian Clarke critical of cloud computing code, IITP CEO Paul Matthews responds

Security, privacy and sovereignty.

According to Fronde CEO Ian Clarke, those are the top three reasons why IT departments resist adopting public cloud solutions, with ‘sovereignty’ the most persistent barrier.

“The dialogue around that [sovereignty] is still being dominated by government and their deliberations on where they’re prepared to put data. And so that tends to influence the rest of the market,” Clarke says.

“I think until government gets more clarity on the use of cloud it’s going to remain an obstacle at some level. My point is that regardless of the sovereignty [issue] there are some uses of the cloud where it doesn’t matter if the data is offshore.”

Fronde, a system integrator and cloud services provider, recently added NetSuite – a financial and ERP solution - to its “family of cloud brands” which includes Amazon, Salesforce and Google. Last month Fronde announced its revenue to March 31, 2013 was $59.9 million, a 25.8 percent increase over the prior year and EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) was $4 million, compared to $2 million the previous year.

Clarke says that high-profile IT projects such as the Work and Income kiosk security breach and the Novopay teachers’ payroll debacle “has driven tremendous focus on security and risk through the government agencies.”

He participated in the early stages of an industry cloud computing code, driven by the Institute of IT Professionals, but he says much of it was duplication of what had already been done overseas.

“I felt that the way it was going in the early stages was going to be quite beneficial to the local players and quite detrimental to international players,” he says.

“And the type of disclosures that were being called for just weren’t going to happen from international players. So it seemed to me that it was attempting to create a somewhat uneven playing field that I’m not sure would be of benefit to our customers.”

Fronde boosted its NetSuite customer base by acquiring Australia-based OnlineOne, which had 120 NetSuite customers and 14 staff, earlier this year.

Clarke says the most obvious customers for NetSuite are franchise operations such as travel agents and real estate agents. “When you can take that infrastructure out of their office so all of their IT services are delivered through a browser, all they have to worry about is having a working device and connectivity.”

“We’ll also be looking very hard at the TIN 100 list, because they are just like us, we’re number three on the fastest-growing [list of companies] and we know that as you scale your business, your systems have to keep up.”

Fronde sent seven staff to the NetSuite conference, SuiteWorld, in San Jose last month, but Fronde wasn’t the only New Zealand reseller present.

Liberate IT, which specialises in NetSuite products and has 25 customers, was also in attendance. Business development manager Steve Paea bumped into Computerworld in the exhibition hall and introduced one his clients, David Lloyd, the financial controller of Arria Natural Language, and NLG Design Group. Lloyd says together the companies employ 85 staff and have offices in New Zealand, US and Britain.

Lloyd says they chose NetSuite because it is a product that he says will accommodate both companies’ growth requirements.

• Sarah Putt attended SuiteWorld in San Jose on May 13-16 as a guest of NetSuite.

IITP CEO Paul Matthews responds to Ian Clarke about CloudCode

“We’d certainly invite those that have misgivings about the Code to take another look.

The CloudCode simply asks responsible cloud providers to make two commitments. Firstly, that they won’t participate in “cloudwashing” – ie they won’t promote something as cloud computing unless it really is, based on international consensus on what that means. And secondly, that when they do provide a cloud product or service, they will disclose important information about it to their client, up-front. Both of these are plain English requirements and broadly supported by the cloud industry, and certainly in the best interests of cloud users.

The disclosures in this second commitment are fairly straightforward and were developed following broad consultation and consensus from New Zealand’s cloud industry. For example, it is generally agreed that if you own data and place it in “the cloud”, you have the right to know where it’s being stored and the legal implications of that. You also have the right to know what sort of backup processes, security and other steps are in place to protect your information, to enable you to make an informed decision when choosing a cloud provider. The Privacy Commissioner has recently released some guidance which illustrates the importance of these types of disclosures and helps interpret them.

The disclosures were determined following a very broad consultation process involving over 250 cloud organisations, individuals and others. We’ve run several rounds of consultation since and while a very small minority of providers aren’t entirely happy with one or two of the disclosures, as will always be the case, the general consensus is very supportive and research shows these disclosures are very important for cloud users.

One of the core principles of the CloudCode was to not reinvent the wheel, so where possible the Code recognises other standards and international work rather than duplicating.

For example, one of the disclosures is around whether a provider is on the CSA STAR Registry. However the CloudCode disclosures themselves don’t duplicate these international standards – they focus on the two commitments above.

While there were a lot of diverse views expressed at the early stages of the consultation, we would be very happy to walk any provider with concerns through where the CloudCode ended up. I’m confident they would find it’s a very positive step designed to create an even playing field and, most importantly, provide confidence to users when choosing cloud services. In short, CloudCode signatories will act as good cloud citizens and disclose everything that the industry as a whole believes is relevant.”

A Register of Signatories for the CloudCode will be launched shortly.

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