Chinese companies have begun competing with Western companies in the cloudcomputing and data storage market. The “cloud war” is taking place as the dispute between the United States and China about data hacking and computer network security grows stronger.
Chinese companies such as Alibaba, Baidu and Huawei are expanding within their country and gaining customers in other countries. At the same time, regulations against foreign companies in China make competing with those businesses difficult. The increasing competition in cloud computing and storage worries some experts. They are concerned about the security of information .
After all, companies often use the cloud to store important, confidential information and to operate such activities as data-driven machinery, telecommunications, banking and transport systems -- including plans for driverless vehicles.
Lee Branstetter is an associate professor of economics at the Heinz School of Policy and Management of the Carnegie Mellon University. He said that many multi-national companies “have serious concerns about the protection of their intellectual property in China.”
Branstetter said some of these large companies already believe they have lost valuable information. “All of this would give non-Chinese multinationals pause before entrusting their critical data to Chinese cloud computing service providers,” Branstetter said.
But experts say some companies simply do not have enough money to pay for the higher-cost cloud computing services sold outside China.
Sheila Jasanoff is the director of the program on science, technology and society at Harvard’s Kennedy School. She called the cloud computing industry “unruly.” In other words, the industry is not strictly governed. “ People (in the business) are making rules as they go along or taking advantage of the lack of rules,” Jasanoff said.
She said cloud computing companies are not clear about what security measures they are promising customers. She is worried that a major accident may happen before governments realize the need for stronger rules in the cloud computing industry.
“ I would think a big tragedy might happen in a large airport or other facility -- like a hospital system -- and it would result in loss of life,” she said. She believes there should be internationally-accepted rules on data security. But she does not believe an international agreement will be reached anytime soon.