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James Williamson, IT coordinator at the New Canadian Democratic Party (NPD), on the ups and downs of storage, data protection and regulatory compliance in the cloud.

When enterprises think about cloud computing they think about the benefits of paying as they go and not forking out a fortune for a new layer of infrastructure. They think about not having to worry about managing hardware, operating systems and vast arrays of storage. One thing they don't usually think about is the physical location where their data will be stored. That's one of the benefits of cloud computing, and one of the risks. Laws and legislation don't move as fast as information technology, and wherever data is physically stored determines to a great extent the laws it is governed under.

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For instance, data stored by US firms within data centers located within the European Union are likely to have differing subpoena rules than if they were stored in the United States. While many IT managers may not pay attention to this detail, James Williamson, IT coordinator at the New Canadian Democratic Party (NPD) certainly does. Williamson explains that the NPD manages 24 million records from 308 electoral districts within the country, each with 100,000 records. About a year ago, the NPD started using Salesforce.com to manage those 24 million constituents. But there was a problem, however, explains Williamson.

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