Monday 10 September 2012

Darren Olivier

BSA reports on RSA's readiness for cloud

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) is a not for profit trade group assimilated to further the interests of the software industry. They seek to achieve this through education, lobbying and consulting with governments, and through an IP (mainly copyright) enforcement program.

BSA's premise, as far as IP is concerned, is that it provides the bedrock for innovation in the software industry by incentivising and protecting developers (and companies) to invest research and devlopment. Some of the benefits include accelaration of access to information and drugs in Africa (Afro Leo mentions these, in particular, because they are often cited as reasons why IP laws should be relaxed in the face of some of Africa's intense needs in these areas).

One of BSA's focus areas of late has been cloud computing. South Africa's readiness to take advantage of cloud based computing was assessed by the BSA along with 24 other countries that are estimated to account for 80% of global IT spend. RSA was the only country mentioned in Africa and fared 18 out of the 24 based on 7 criteria (privacy, cybercrime, cyber security, intellectual property, free trade, IT infrastructure and interoperability). The key findings were that (see full report here):

RSA - partly cloudly with scattered showers
  • there are no specific regulations for cloud computing
  • privacy legislation is not yet in place (there is legislation in process)
  • IP legislation needs to be brought up to date
  • domestic preferences for government procurement hinder free trade and technology interoperability
  • there is no comprehensive plan or funding for expanding broadband infrastructure at this stage.
Although RSA IP legislation is somewhat antiquated when it comes to copyright (drafted in 1978 with some major amendments in the 90s), the fundamentals for IP protection for software are present and with contemporary interpretation by the courts, IP owners have not been let down - see, for example, the recent Discovery case here - a case whose facts lend themselves to an assessment of copyright protection in a future cloud based environment.

To understand the impact of cloud computing on IP and piracy one needs to assess what the cloud is and how it is delivered. One question which has been raised is whether cloud services (especially SaaS) is likely to reduce software piracy which currently prevails in one out of every three businesses in RSA, according to the BSA.

understanding the cloud is not this traumatic! (Twister)
Cloud is not a product but an architecture that facilitates access to software services (and more). Three distinct services have emerged:
  • SaaS - software as a service - by far the most popular
  • IaaS - infrastructure as a service
  • PaaS - platform as a service
There are also two basic types of delivery of cloud based services - those delivered through a public cloud and others through a private cloud . Most organisations accept cloud based services through both, in combination with their on-site software infrastructure which, by the way, cloud is not expected to replace for a number of good reasons.

Cloud computing is estimated to attract around 8% of global IT spend in 2012, according to the BSA website. This spend is expected to increase by 25% in 2012 and byover 33% in 2013. We have already experienced the massive impact of the cloud in much of the technology that drives our smartphones and Linkedin is just one of many examples of services making use of the cloud.

When it comes to internet piracy sadly though, the cloud is expected to accelarate and proliferate the scurge in the following ways:
  • Using the cloud to deliver illegal software - creating a Saas offering without a licence for redistribution
  • Pirated software is used in a private clould model within enterprises
  • Under licensing in a private cloud environnment
  • Sharing/abuse of SaaS account credentials or hacking into SaaS
Afro Leo concludes that cloud based computing is one of the most exciting developments in the software arena and would be delighted if the RSA government launched a commission into the update of Copyright legislation to bring it into line with international norms, help create jobs and benefit local software developers.

Darren Olivier

Darren Olivier

Subscribe via email (you'll be added to our Google Group)