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Security in the Cloud: Myth vs Reality

28th March 2013

Security remains by far the biggest source of concern for IT departments when it comes to selecting cloud service providers to host additional applications and services (cited by 80% of respondents) despite the fact that in many cases the cloud service provider’s ability to provide more effective data security is considerably greater than the resident IT department.

Security in the Cloud imageHigh profile outages which have affected the most widely used public cloud services in recent years have heightened ongoing security and performance concerns for many business customers. But both private hosted and on-premises, and hybrid cloud services using single-tenanted architecture and dedicated servers, storage and bandwidth can offer more robust protection than the shared multi-tenanted architecture characteristic of public cloud platforms which host different customers’ virtual workloads on the same systems simultaneously.

Various studies have concluded on-premises system security can be more vulnerable to malware, botnet and web application attacks than equivalent hosted systems for example, whilst in-house misconfiguration issues can also cause security problems. The gap between the level of security and reliability enabled by public cloud services and private/hybrid cloud alternatives tailored to more demanding enterprise customers presents a significant springboard for product differentiation and subsequent competitive advantage for providers, but only if they are able to educate potential customers and set out comprehensive service level agreements (SLAs) which guarantee data integrity for customers alongside uptime and application availability. Maintaining effective data security protection through regular installation of application updates and patches also represents a significant drain on the IT department’s time which can be minimised by pushing that responsibility onto the cloud service provider.

The relatively small number of respondents (21%) highlighting price and billing as a concern indicates that compared to onpremises application and service hosting, and beyond initial set-up and migration expenses, cloud services are seen to offer either equal or better value for money by the majority of organisations despite costs varying significantly according to individual cloud service providers and specific workloads.

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