While MSPmentor has been watching the convergence of managed services and cloud computing, the rest of the world has been watching the news unfold around controversial governmental whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks and their recent ejection from Amazon EC2 following a string of DDOS attacks. But the two concepts meet in a short, but thoughtful, essay by Parallels’ Joshua Beil on what the WikiLeaks story means for cloud and hosted service providers. Here are some highlights.

A quick, simplified recap for those not in the know: WikiLeaks is a site headed by one Julian Assange which recently made headlines across the globe when it released the text of cables that revealed more about United States diplomats than the federal government would have anyone know.

Afterwards, WikiLeaks was the target of distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks that prompted them to move their hosting to the Amazon EC2 cloud. But it wasn’t to last more than 24 hours - on Wednesday, Amazon ejected WikiLeaks from its service under pressure from the US government.

That’s where Parallels Director of Market Strategy and Research Joshua Beil comes in. In his blog post, he points out that Amazon Web Services didn’t actively solicit WikiLeaks.org as a client, and since they only provide infrastructure, they had no way of knowing that they were sitting on such a powderkeg. So is it fair for the feds to put that kind of pressure on Amazon?

Beil wraps up his blog post with three very salient questions for cloud service providers to ask themselves, even as new ethical trails are being forged in cloud computing:
  • As a service provider, what would you do if today you discovered you were hosting Wikileaks.org?
  • How should you respond when the Feds come knocking on any grounds?
  • Is it your patriotic duty to comply or your foremost duty to protect customers that aren’t explicitly breaking the law?
MSPmentor isn’t offering any answers to what’s clearly a sticky situation that’s going to take teams of lawyers to unravel. But as the industry moves towards the cloud, these are the kinds of questions MSPs are going to have to ask themselves - though hopefully, they won’t find themselves with a client that’s as much a target as Assange and WikiLeaks are right now.

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