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Data debate goes on

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In a July 27 story in DMNews, I discussed the ongoing battle between cloud advocates and those who prefer to keep their data in a private warehouse. One major area of contention in this debate -- and one not addressed in the article (even though I tried to get our federal IT guys on the phone) -- is the possibility of storing government data in the cloud.

The federal government has proposed moving information to the cloud -- to the discomfort of some and the glee of others, depending on which side they take in the cloud security showdown. Now, Washington state is having its own version of the debate.

Washington recently approved $300 million in funding for a new data center for the Department of Information Services, and, as with most major state budgeting decisions, not everyone is happy. There are some in the tech-happy state that believe the state could save money and time by outsourcing this data to the cloud. Two state legislators even wrote a letter to the governor, which read, in part, "We are deeply troubled by the weakness of the technical and financial support behind this decision, and fear the state is potentially making a $300 million mistake that will haunt us for decades to come." They also pointed out that, "Washington is home to many of the leading providers of this rapidly evolving commodity service where improved security, disaster recovery and lower costs are being driven by almost universal adoption by both the public and private sectors."

However, proponents of the self-contained data center point out that the information stored there canbe extremely confidential and they, like some of the experts I cited in the earlier article, don't quite trust that data in the cloud is secure.

So what do you think -- is a government data center "A $300 million mistake" or a sound investment in today's world?
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