The Doppler Quarterly Summer 2017 - Page 8

Government Action Threatens Net Neutrality and Your Cloud Bill David Linthicum Proposed government policies will set the standard for how cloud providers work outside of Net Neutrality. The Trump administration served notice earlier this year that it intends to deregulate broadband internet service companies. In effect, they would jettison the Obama administration’s net neutrality rules. The net neutrality rules, approved by the Federal Com- munications Commission in 2015, aimed to preserve the open internet and ensure that it could not be divided into “pay-to-play” fast lanes. What this means in the world of cloud computing is that they could not pay ISPs to provide prioritization of network packets, to favor one cloud provider over another. Supporters of net neutrality have insisted the rules are necessary to protect equal access to content on the internet. Opponents said the rules unfairly sub- jected broadband internet suppliers like Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and Charter to utility-style regula- tion. Our role at CTP is to look at how the changes will affect our clients. As summarized by Leigh Heyman, a former White House staffer with the Obama administration, the idea was to provide equal access to Internet resources, no matter what relationship exists. Heyman goes on to state that “Lacking Net Neutrality, vendors have the flexibility now to charge new fees. Also, they can invest in cloud providers and prioritize the packets.” 6 | THE DOPPLER | SUMMER 2017 The problem comes in when you consider the conflict of interest. ISPs typically own media services, such as cable TV services (e.g., Verizon, Time Warner, etc.). Thus, mega-streamers such as Netflix are typically in direct competition with ISPs. So, if you have a legal way to poke your competitor in the eye, why wouldn’t you? You also need to consider other cloud services that focus more on the retail user, such as DropBox, iCloud, Google, or, on small business, such as AWS and Salesforce.com. If the ISPs start charging access fees for these cloud providers, they will have to raise prices to pass along the access fees to their custom- ers who can least afford it. So, cloud services that may have been free in the past could cost a few more dol- lars a month. While that does not seem like a lot for large businesses, small businesses could end up pay- ing thousands more a month for cloud services that were relatively economical before. If the services cost more because of new access fees, and we leverage cloud services to save money, then the use of those cloud services becomes far less com- pelling for retail and small business users. Moreover, the strategic benefits of cloud computing, such as agility and scalability, are not as important or valu- able when you’re running a small chain of flower shops, or even a large retail store. Larger corporate users won’t feel the pinch of these access fees, considering that they typically leverage huge pipes to the Internet using specialized ISPs that won’t charge these fees. Moreover, many use direct