Some time back there was an IT director that told me: “tomorrow’s IT workers are increasingly becoming lawyers”. I thought that was a quite bold statement.
But I have to be honest: it’s not funny, it’s bloody true.
The world is becoming more connected, but also increasingly complex. A lot of our IT services have become commodities, and are utilized in a pay per use model, just like water, gas and electricity. Platforms work based on agreements between a supplier and beneficiary.
There’s much more communication between machines than ever before and all happens in cyberspace. Many parameters then come in to the picture. For transactional systems, contracts discuss aspects like what are the cut-off times for transactions, how the provider will ensure an appropriate sizing on peak days, what are the service desk opening hours, availability rates, recovery time & recovery time objective and maintenance windows for instance. What are the termination conditions? You not need to be only technically savvy, but increasingly a juridical wizard too. And yes, understanding the papers can become very complex too.
Another thing I want to draw your attention to is Cloud Computing. One of the important considerations with cloud computing is the location where everything will be hosted. Not an easy choice, as globally different rules apply with regards to privacy and data protection. In 2001 the US government established the so-called “Patriot Act”, which gives them far-reaching powers.
Even within Europe itself, different rules apply but opting for a location in Europe usually gives corporations enough guarantees. The contract then stipulates that the cloud provider should commit itself to the privacy laws that are governed in the beneficiary its headquarters.
Unfortunately, there is still no specific law with regards to cloud computing yet. What makes things more complicated is that legally not all data have the same meaning. For example, customer and personally identifiable information are more sensitive than other data.
Because on a global scales laws are incompatible, countries have a different view on systems. That’s why the US National Security Agency thinks it is okay to track devices all over the world, without prior consent and then even goes a step further to intercept them based on criteria like “Al Qaida”. It is the idea that knowledge is power. Israel spies on US, Brazil looks to break from US-centric Internet and so on. Government agencies don’t always agree with each other, but the one that has the most and powerful resources wins. This is another topic, but a structural problem.
But I hope you see why legal and compliance matter, and why IT folks need these skills too.
I can ramble on even more, if you will.