@CloudExpo Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Aruna Ravichandran

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog

@CloudExpo: Blog Feed Post

The Ethics of Cloud Computing By @Skytap | @CloudExpo [#Cloud]

Cloud computing can only reach its full potential if a real, lasting trust is established between providers and customers

The Ethics of Cloud Computing - Part 3

​This is the final chapter in Seth Payne's three-part series. Click here to read Part One or Part Two.

Where Do These Ethical Principles Come From?

As I mentioned above, I find that understanding the "why" of moral and ethical behavior is just as important as knowing "what" moral behavior is expected.  For this reason, I will briefly outline the origins of the ethical principles I have outlined above.

Broadly speaking, ethical and moral philosophy is dominated by two schools of thought.  On the one hand sit deontologists.  Deontology is the idea that there are certain moral rules to be followed simply because of the nature of sentient life.  For example, a strict deontologist, like the great philosopher Immanuel Kant and even great thinkers in the East, argue that being honest at all times is a moral principle to be observed under any and all circumstances.  The basic reasoning here is that human beings have value in and of themselves; completely separate from whom they are, what they may do or how they act.  This is a recognition of the universal value of sentient life, especially human life,  and certain moral rules are established which insist that sentient life is never to be used as a means to an end because, life is an end it itself.  As I say, this type of thinking is common in both Western and Eastern moral philosophy.  Even ancient Greek "Virtue Ethics" are based on a deontological thinking.

Consequentialism, by contrast, is not based on any set of pre-defined moral rules.  Rather, the morality of any given action is based on the consequences that result from the action.  So, if I choose to do X and this produces positive consequences, I conclude that X is moral.  If, however, X produces negative consequences then I conclude X is immoral.  Of course, this type of analysis is done before an action is taken and moral judgments are made on the expected outcome.  The biggest proponents of consequentialist thinking have been John Stuart Mill (19th Century), Richard Hare, and contemporary moral philosopher Peter Singer of Princeton.

Philosophers and ethicists debate deontology and consequentialism ad nauseum.  Some deontologists have even admitted frustration because consequentialism seems to right, but they know it must be wrong! And indeed, I think there is a good point to be made here.  Unless consequentialism is taken to extremes, it seems to be a very a substantive basis for moral thinking.  I see the relationship between consequentialism and deontology as being similar to that of the relationship between Newtonian mechanics and Einstein's relativity.    When we look out into the cosmos, Newtonian mechanics break down.  But If I'm building a bridge, I use Newton, not Einstein.  It's all a matter of context.

Regardless of any philosophical debate, the reality is that we live in a world where both consequentialist and deontological thought are necessary.

Consider the issue of respective individual privacy.  From a deontological viewpoint, we must seek ensure privacy because IT users are human beings with value in themselves and to invade their privacy is an affront to that inherent value.  On the other hand, if an employee inadvertently sends sensitive customer data outside the firm via email, then we may consider the question in consequentialist terms.  If sensitive customer data is leaked, it could result in serious negative consequences for both the customer and the firm, and thus should be avoided/prevented.  Of course, by preventing data leaks we are also fulfilling a duty to customers that is, generally, a moral rule borne of deontology.

The same applies to the other ethical principles discussed above.  There are times when we must honor a duty to customers and yet other times when preventing potential harm - to either the firm or to its customers - must factor into moral decision-making.

I have observed that most of us default to consequentialist thinking without even realizing we have done so.  There is no harm in this, necessarily.  However, if a firm attempts to minimize its own negative consequences and places its own needs above the duty to customers moral conflict arises.  Moral conflict leads to unhappy customers and unhappy customers are not just bad for business, they often represent a breach of trust - be it large or small, perceived or real.

It is important to note that moral culture within an organization begins at the top.  A service provider without strong moral leadership cannot hope to act morally in the aggregate.  Regardless of the number of customer service, technical support, or account management employees who seek to do right by their customers, these employees can only work within a larger corporate culture.  Moral leaders create moral employees.  Moral employees create happy customers who feel respected and valued.

Cloud Computing Ethics in Practice
As mentioned above, the core ethical principles of IT remain unchanged with the advent of Cloud Computing.  However, as the saying goes, while the play remains the same, the players have changed.  And even though the governing ethics remain largely unchanged, it is important to reexamine them especially in light of the fact that so much of what used to be entirely internal considerations of operations and risk management, has been entrusted to providers and individuals who sit well outside direct organizational control.

Service providers must understand the operational risk they are assuming for their customers.  Providers become stewards of customer data, functional operation, and risk mitigation.  Fulfilling this duty as stewards requires the proper investment in technology and talent.  It also requires explicit and honest communication with customers.

Customers too have a responsibilities and duties as they are, most likely, providing services to customers of their own.  Consumers of cloud services must have a deep understanding of the technology being utilized and its accompanying risks.  The only way to meet this responsibility is to 1) perform due diligence when considering a 3rd party cloud services provider and 2) maintain consistent communication with the chosen provider to keep abreast of any changes that may impact their ability to meet the needs of their customers.

Ultimately it really comes down to some pretty simple ideas.  Be honest, be responsible and transparent, respect privacy, and treat both customers and vendors as we, ourselves, would like to be treated.

Cloud computing can only reach its full potential if a real, lasting trust is established between providers and customers.  This trust can only be built on strong, well-defined system of ethics borne of organizational cultures dedicated to long-term relationships and customer success.

Seth Payne is a Sr. Product Manager at Skytap. He received and MA in Religion & Ethics from Yale University and an MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business. Seth previously worked as a Technical Product Manager at the New York Stock Exchange and has 15+ years experience in high-tech.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Skytap Blog

Author: Noel Wurst is the managing content editor at Skytap. Skytap provides SaaS-based dev/test environments to the enterprise. Skytap solution removes the inefficiencies and constraints that companies have within their software development lifecycle. As a result, customers release better software faster. In this blog, we publish engaging, thought provoking stories that revolve around agile enterprise applications and cloud-based development and testing.

@CloudExpo Stories
What is the best strategy for selecting the right offshore company for your business? In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, will discuss the things to look for - positive and negative - in evaluating your options. He will also discuss how to maximize productivity with your offshore developers. Before you start your search, clearly understand your business needs and how that impacts software choices.
As you move to the cloud, your network should be efficient, secure, and easy to manage. An enterprise adopting a hybrid or public cloud needs systems and tools that provide: Agility: ability to deliver applications and services faster, even in complex hybrid environments Easier manageability: enable reliable connectivity with complete oversight as the data center network evolves Greater efficiency: eliminate wasted effort while reducing errors and optimize asset utilization Security: imple...
As people view cloud as a preferred option to build IT systems, the size of the cloud-based system is getting bigger and more complex. As the system gets bigger, more people need to collaborate from design to management. As more people collaborate to create a bigger system, the need for a systematic approach to automate the process is required. Just as in software, cloud now needs DevOps. In this session, the audience can see how people can solve this issue with a visual model. Visual models ha...
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, will discuss how by using...
The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous ar...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Taica will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ANSeeN are the measurement electronics maker for X-ray and Gamma-ray and Neutron measurement equipment such as spectrometers, pulse shape analyzer, and CdTe-FPD. For more information, visit http://anseen.com/.
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to w...
Is advanced scheduling in Kubernetes achievable? Yes, however, how do you properly accommodate every real-life scenario that a Kubernetes user might encounter? How do you leverage advanced scheduling techniques to shape and describe each scenario in easy-to-use rules and configurations? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Oleg Chunikhin, CTO at Kublr, will answer these questions and demonstrate techniques for implementing advanced scheduling. For example, using spot instances ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Daiya Industry will exhibit at the Japanese Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ruby Development Inc. builds new services in short period of time and provides a continuous support of those services based on Ruby on Rails. For more information, please visit https://github.com/RubyDevInc.
When it comes to cloud computing, the ability to turn massive amounts of compute cores on and off on demand sounds attractive to IT staff, who need to manage peaks and valleys in user activity. With cloud bursting, the majority of the data can stay on premises while tapping into compute from public cloud providers, reducing risk and minimizing need to move large files. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Jeschonek, Director of Product Management at Avere Systems, discussed the IT and busine...
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, will discuss some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he’ll go over some of the best practices for structured team migrat...
As businesses evolve, they need technology that is simple to help them succeed today and flexible enough to help them build for tomorrow. Chrome is fit for the workplace of the future — providing a secure, consistent user experience across a range of devices that can be used anywhere. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, will take a look at various options as to how ChromeOS can be leveraged to interact with people on the devices, and formats th...
First generation hyperconverged solutions have taken the data center by storm, rapidly proliferating in pockets everywhere to provide further consolidation of floor space and workloads. These first generation solutions are not without challenges, however. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Wes Talbert, a Principal Architect and results-driven enterprise sales leader at NetApp, will discuss how the HCI solution of tomorrow will integrate with the public cloud to deliver a quality hybrid cloud e...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Yuasa System will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Yuasa System is introducing a multi-purpose endurance testing system for flexible displays, OLED devices, flexible substrates, flat cables, and films in smartphones, wearables, automobiles, and healthcare.
Companies are harnessing data in ways we once associated with science fiction. Analysts have access to a plethora of visualization and reporting tools, but considering the vast amount of data businesses collect and limitations of CPUs, end users are forced to design their structures and systems with limitations. Until now. As the cloud toolkit to analyze data has evolved, GPUs have stepped in to massively parallel SQL, visualization and machine learning.
Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant tha...
Organizations do not need a Big Data strategy; they need a business strategy that incorporates Big Data. Most organizations lack a road map for using Big Data to optimize key business processes, deliver a differentiated customer experience, or uncover new business opportunities. They do not understand what’s possible with respect to integrating Big Data into the business model.
The session is centered around the tracing of systems on cloud using technologies like ebpf. The goal is to talk about what this technology is all about and what purpose it serves. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Shashank Jain, Development Architect at SAP, will touch upon concepts of observability in the cloud and also some of the challenges we have. Generally most cloud-based monitoring tools capture details at a very granular level. To troubleshoot problems this might not be good enough.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, will discuss how from store operations...
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, will discuss how they bu...