Cloud computing is one of the hot topics of IT Law in a global scale. Wherever we go, whatever we purchase or whichever IT service we use, the name "Cloud" pops up indicating that it is a necessity or even an indispensible part of today's IT world. We always hear about the Cloud, about how useful, easy to use and profitable it is. But the essential questions are: What is Cloud Computing really? What's in it for businesses? What may be the drawbacks and concerns? What is the current situation of Cloud Computing in Turkey?

1- What is Cloud Computing and why is it Useful?

Cloud Computing can be defined as the use of computing tools and resources such as hardware and software which are delivered as a service over the internet and is a long held dream of the computer industry. The reason behind the wording "Cloud" is because a cloud-shaped symbol is used to represent a complex infrastructure in the topographies or system diagrams. So in simple saying, Cloud Computing is a platform where users can outsource most of their computing needs.

Cloud Computing may include many services such as Software as a Service ("SaaS"), Infrastructure as a Service ("IaaS"), Platform as a Service ("PaaS"), Storage as a Service ("STaaS") and many more.

In today's business world, companies prefer outsourcing for obvious reasons such as cost, efficiency, having more operational control, flexibility, risk management etc. The same benefits also apply for Cloud Computing.

With the Cloud, companies can be provided with custom made, flexible, cost efficient, scalable and reliable computing solutions for their needs. Most Cloud providers offer many different configurations with a number of different payment structures. Therefore, with Cloud Computing, the companies may avoid the following risks and costs and focus on their core business; i) Investment on IT infrastructure: Cloud computing provides most of the computing needs of a company. Therefore companies do not need to buy high-end computers or big hard disks for storage etc. This way it will be possible for companies to cut back on IT investments and channel their resources to their core business.

ii) High Maintenance Costs: Maintenance is cheaper and easier as computing applications do not need to be installed on every user's machine.

iii) Following and Holding a Software Inventory: As SaaS is included in the Cloud, companies do not need to worry about their Software. With the Cloud, software updates will be done automatically and software licenses will be followed by the provider. That way companies can avoid the risk of using pirate or outdated software which may result in serious security breaches. This is also very important for a Turkey which has a relatively high rate of software piracy with 62%. More information can be found on BSA's website.1

iv) Establish a Big IT Department: As computing will be provided as a service, the most necessary processes related to computing systems will also be provided by the Cloud provider. Therefore, the companies do not need to employ many people for the IT department.

v) Performance and Continuity Problems: Performance of the systems will be monitored constantly by the Cloud provider and if there is any drop in the performance, the provider will intervene to repair or refine the system. This grants a more reliable and continued performance.

2- What may be the Drawbacks and Concerns?

Drawbacks and concerns can always be elaborated for any kind of new technology and at the end of the day; only some of these concerns turn out to be true. For Cloud Computing, the only concern which seems to turn out to be true is "data security".

In Cloud Computing, providers store companies' data in their hard disks somewhere out there in the Cloud. Therefore, in a way, they become the data controller. This is a very good function in many ways as noted above, however it also raises some questions: Where is my data? Is my data safe? Is my data shared with anyone without my knowledge? What happens if there is a data breach?

Understandably, as "data" is one of the core values of a company, these questions are frequently asked.

In countries where there is sufficient and effective data protection, the questions above are not that common because the companies know what rules govern their data through relevant data protection laws. Rules related to processing and transferring data, data controllers' liabilities, responsibilities, and mitigations are all known to the companies which use Cloud Computing, therefore as a natural consequence; the level and use of the Cloud services are more common in countries where there is sufficient and effective data protection.

On the other side, in countries where there is no specific data protection law or sufficient and effective data protection, these questions are still asked frequently and these issues constitute a barrier against Cloud Computing.

3- What is the Current Situation in Turkey?

It is fair enough to say that Turkey is one of the countries which did not miss the Cloud train. Users in Turkey show a great interest to Cloud Computing and to the advantages it brings. Therefore many IT companies and telecommunication giants have made serious investments in Turkey to expand the use of Cloud in Turkey.

Having said the above, there is still a lot of room for improvement as some users are hesitant to use the Cloud Computing due to lack of a specific data protection law and other legislation to regulate Cloud Computing in Turkey. In general, the rules related to privacy and personal data are stipulated in the Constitution, Code of Obligations and Turkish Criminal Law. However as anticipated, these rules are not detailed enough to tackle today's data protection issues.

Due to the lack of a specific data protection law in Turkey, Cloud Computing is not as developed as it is the case in EU or USA. However, as a close follower of new technologies, the Cloud market in Turkey is expected to develop more in the near future. In particular, after following the Draft Data Protection Law, Cloud Computing in Turkey is likely to make a significant progress.



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