Has The Sky Cleared on Cloud Security?

Last year I embarked on a blog series, lead by my trusty advisor CloudFucius, that evolved into an exploration of the numerous cloud computing surveys, reports, statistics and other feelings about the technology.  At the time, 4-5 surveys a week were being released covering some aspect of cloud computing and security was cited as the biggest hurdle in almost 90% of the surveys.  I also found that availability, control and a general lack of understanding were also drivers in challenges to cloud adoption.   Almost 6 months have passed since the last CloudFucius entry and I wanted to see if the same fears were still lingering or at least, were the current surveys reporting the same concerns from a year ago about Cloud Computing.

First up, is UK based technology publication, Computing.   Working with Symantec.cloud, they surveyed 150 IT decision makers and learned that as more companies embrace Cloud Computing, they are finding that the cloud solutions meet or beat, not only their expectations but also their own existing in-house solutions.  While on-premise security solutions might be adequate today, as the security threats evolve, the cloud providers may have the advantage over time due to the infrastructure investments in advanced filtering and detection along with 24/7 trained staff.  Last year, availability and uptime also emerged as concerns and today there is great interest in the contractual SLAs offered by cloud providers since it often surpasses what they are capable of in-house.  Resiliency and disaster recovery across multiple data centers can ensure that if there is an outage in one location, the customers can still access their data.  Management and control still create some anxiety but many IT teams are happy to abdicate routine maintenance, like OS patching and hardware upgrades, in exchange for management SLAs.  Now that the hype of cloud services has passed and many providers are proving themselves worthy, it is now becoming part of the overall IT strategy.  As the perceived threats to data security in the cloud dwindle, trust in the cloud will grow.

The Cloud Connect Conference in Santa Clara also released a survey during their gathering.  In that one, elasticity and speed of deployment were the top motivators to using cloud services.  Elasticity or the flexibility to quickly add or reduce capacity, can greatly influence the availability of data.  These folks however were less motivated by improved security or access to the provider’s IT staff.  Their top concerns were data privacy and infrastructure control.  I do find it interesting that last year the term ‘security,’ which can encompass many things, was the primary apprehension of going to the cloud while today, it has somewhat narrowed to specifically data privacy.  That too can mean several things but areas like outsider’s physical access to systems doesn’t seem to worry IT crews as much any more.

When it comes to our school/educational system, Panda Security released a study that focused on IT security in K-12 school districts.  Like many companies, they must deal with unauthorized user access, malware outbreaks and admit that IT security is time and resource intensive.  They do believe however that the cloud can offer security benefits and improve their overall infrastructure.  91% see value in cloud solutions and are planning to implement over the next couple years with 80% saying improved security was a main reason to deploy cloud-based security.

Finally on the consumer front, GfK Business & Technology surveyed 1000 adults about cloud services and storing content in the cloud.  With all of our connected devices – cell phone, computer, tablet, etc – there will be a greater demand to move data to the cloud.  Not real surprising, less than 10% of the consumers surveyed fully understand what the cloud actually does.  The know of it, but not what it accomplishes.  With what you don’t understand comes fear.  61% said that they were concerned about storing their data in the cloud and almost half said they would never use the cloud unless it was easy to store and retrieve data.  As businesses begin to feel content with the cloud, they then need to both educate and communicate cloud benefits to their consumers.

So it does appear like comfort with the cloud is beginning to take hold and as cloud offerings mature, especially around security, err ah, I mean data privacy solutions, the fear, uncertainty and doubt from last year is starting to loosen and it sure seems like greater adoption is on the horizon.

And one from Confucius: They must often change who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.



Published Mar 24, 2011
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