The fear of the cloud
By now – we should all know what “cloud computing” means. It can be simply defined as a method of delivering technology to the consumer by using Internet servers for processing and data storage, while the client system uses the data.
The client becomes the recipient of technology data, services and platforms on their own device – on demand.
Cloud computing is being widely adopted by large institutions, governments and global companies – providing massive cost savings and increased efficiencies in the mobile market.
Yet paranoia and fear still exists amongst many organisations who believe it is safer to maintain their data on on-premise installations than a third-party supplier of cloud services. How valid is this concern?
Firstly, ask yourself this question. Do you use any of the following at your home or office– Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook, Gmail or a Windows Live account? Do you use online storage such as Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive to store or backup your data? Well, if you do – you and your data are already in the cloud.
I am actually surprised by the number of small companies or parastatals that contact me for business purposes using Gmail or Live accounts.
Secondly, do you, as an organisation, use any of the data hosting or backup services on offer within Malawi? What security can you be assured of from them? How much research did you do on the actual options on offer? How does this compare with the security offerings of global organisations such as Amazon Web, Google, or Microsoft Cloud Services? What redundancy is on offer?
As a Head of IT or CEO for your organisation, the consideration of utilising this cloud technology for increased financial and efficiency benefits, let alone competitive edge, should be an essential part of your decision-making process.
Whatever your line of business, global players such as Aston Martin, Dell, Reuters and Puma are utilising cloud services in some form.
In the government arena, the UK Ministry of Justice, the US Department of Homeland Security as well as many utilities organisations, both private and public, are reaping the benefits of this technology.
Do remember, though, that any shared data infrastructure is vulnerable without properly defined and built in user governance. Often, the weakest part of the best and most secure network is the user.
Whether they choose to compromise the security of the system, or are not aware of the dangers of their online activity, properly defined usage policy and carefully constructed access protocols need to be in place. Do be aware that most malware attacks are initiated by user action – knowingly or otherwise.
So – what do you look for, once you have overcome your fear of the cloud? Explore the following areas with your proposed service provider. Where is your data held, and who has access to it? Microsoft Azure, for example, keeps your data in triplicate across three physically separate domains.
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