The biggest concern keeping many business owners on the sidelines of the cloud revolution centers around security. Essentially, security on the cloud is no more or less safe than with on-premise systems. Actually, the IT structure of cloud hosting holds tremendous potential for organizations to improve their overall information security.
A Gartner’s CIO Agenda survey from 2011 found that just 3% of CIO’s surveyed said that the majority of their IT operations are on the cloud. 43% said that within 4 years they expect the majority of their IT to be running on the cloud using either Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) or Software-as-a-Service (Saas) technologies. Several concerns are keeping CIO’s at arms length from cloud hosting, but the industry is aware and is addressing them.
Lack of Control
For most businesses, control of information is everything. To the uninformed, cloud hosting of sensitive, proprietary information on an outsourced, multi-user platform, seems like a complete loss of control. There are several secure cloud providers who understand these concerns and have built their entire business around providing facilities, services and policies giving complete transparency and control over data and information systems.
In fact, most cloud providers provide a level of security that would be hard to match for many on-premise or private cloud systems. Due to the cost, providing services to other “tenants” allows for economies of scale when it comes to security. In fact, this leverage allows for even greater control of critical information systems and sensitive data than if hosted internally.
Other Areas of Concern
Many CIO’s also have concerns around multi-tenant cloud hosting. The idea that virtual machines and data for multiple tenants resides on the same physical server raises a “red flag” for many potential cloud adopters. The technology available from most cloud host providers allows for enhanced security for each virtual network, regardless of the physical server allocation.
Virtual machines live in a virtual network controlled by an operating system known as a hypervisor. This hypervisor allows for VM isolation and separates your virtual network from others hosted on the same machine. This means that no one else can view your data. This also is true for network security. Hypervisors allow for the installation of individual firewalls, much like an on premise system.
Another key concern is disk wiping and data remaining on the system after closing a cloud hosting account. This same VM technology allows the host to wipe data as on a dedicated system. Because the virtual machine is in essence, a stand-alone system, using a DoD approved disc-wiping utility ensures complete deletion and enhanced security.
As the cloud continues to mature, security is a primary concern and is being addressed by cloud hosting providers. For many businesses, the overall cost of an on-premise server system is no longer cost effective. As business continue to try to find ways to cut costs and maintain security and control over crucial IT functions, it may be time to take a closer look at moving your business to the cloud!
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