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Net Neutrality, the Cloud, and Your Business

Are you paying attention to the whole Open Internet (aka Net Neutrality) “thing” brewing at the FCC? If not, you’d better start.

At issue is whether Internet Service Providers (ISPs) ought to be allowed to restrict access – or charge for enhanced access – to the Internet. Most of the popular arguments center on the potential for the likes of Comcast and Time Warner and Verizon to require outfits like Netflix and Hulu and Amazon to pay extra for sufficiently fast connections to ensure high-quality streams – and/or to force us as consumer to pay the added freight.

But there’s a whole other side to the conversation that hasn’t seemed to capture the public’s imagination in the same way: namely that the same potential exists for business customers who need high-quality connections to the cloud. My guess is that this group of users includes you – and if it doesn’t, then I’m sure it soon will.

Ponder the Possibilities
I’m not going to debate the pros and cons in this space here – I’m an information governance and management consultant, not a political activist – but all I can envision is a future in which my company’s ISP decides it wants to charge me extra for the ability to rapidly upload files to Box, or quickly update the data in SalesForce, or collaborate in real-time on my clients’ deliverables.

How important is the issue? Important enough that President Obama very publicly just weighed in on one side of the issue and Republican leadership immediately voiced its opposition.

However it plays out, one question, at least, appears to have a clear answer in that there almost certainly will be some level of service available even if we don’t pay for an accelerated offering. Will this be good enough to get work done? Well, that depends, upon (a) what it is we need to do, and (b) what minimums, if any, the ISPs are required to provide.

I have no doubt that there will be ramifications on your business because of how reliant you – and we all – now are on the Internet, and to the very great degree to which we take it for granted. Typically, most of the time we spend on infrastructure performance is focused internally, as in how powerful the servers are, how fast the wifi is, etc. But what of the “pipe” connecting us to the rest of the world? We don’t have direct control over that, and it makes me nervous to think my company’s agility might be subject to some ISPs discretion.

What Say You?
OK, so now you know how I feel! What about you? What’s your take on Net Neutrality as it relates to business, rather than consumer, use?


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