I just recently watched the original Star Wars movie (since renamed A New Hope) in its entirety for the first time in years. One thing dawned on me this time through that I had never picked up on before – even in all of the times that I have watched this film. Apparently, the Rebel Empire didn’t trust their Cloud either.

What other explanation could there be? I mean with all of the technology that they were capable of – droids, hyperspace, laser beams, etc. – they must have at least had some kind of communications network in place, right? Spaceships communicating with each other as well as with various space stations and command centers.

This would have all required some kind of ability to send and receive data, right? And if they did have such a network in place, then one can only assume that it was deemed as insecure or unreliable. Otherwise why didn’t Princess Leia just email the blueprints for the Death Star back to headquarters and spare everyone a lot of grief?

Or why not send a distress text message to Obi wan Kenobi or even better, why not just update her status to “Captured?”  Instead, she chose to use the snail mail equivalent – essentially having her propriety information hand delivered aboard R2D2? That was the main storyline if you recall. Princess Leia had collected sensitive data that happened to include blueprints for the Empire’s new state-of-the-art space station and she desperately needed to get that information into the hands of her Rebel counterparts.

The info would help them find a way to destroy the Death Star before Darth Vader and company could use it to rule the universe. I agree, it made for great entertainment, but in the end caused a lot of death and destruction that could have easily been avoided with a VPN connection.

Back in our galaxy, the latest reports all list “security concerns” as a leading reason that enterprises aren’t adopting the Cloud for more of their applications. However, that should begin to change as “network-enabled” compute and storage environments begin to emerge and compete with traditional Cloud services. These still raise concerns about privacy and performance when it comes to their ability to support enterprise application.

In this next generation of Cloud, providers like AT&T will leverage the security, reliability and controls that customers have already trusted for the foundation of their private networks and integrate those with on-demand compute and storage resources.   David Berlind recently made similar observations after attending last week’s “Cloud Carrier Forum” in Santa Clara, CA. He stated in his February 14th article, “Not only do the carriers already own the networks across which all cloud-based data and content is already trafficked, they have a decades-old and relatively bulletproof track record in delivering secure and highly available services”.

The next logical step will be to “on-net” these data center storage and compute resources with a customer’s existing MPLS network – extending security, performance and class of service into the virtual data center. When you add to that all of the other benefits a major service provider can offer- things like end-to-end service level agreements, high-touch support model and intergalactic (or at least global for now) reach – the carrier-based cloud will be – well a FORCE to be reckoned with.

So, what do you think? What do you see ahead for cloud security? What role do you see carriers playing in cloud access and security? We look forward to your comments.