Although cloud computing has been heralded as one of the most important evolutions in IT, the true benefits it can bring has always been a point of contention with CIOs. Following several high profile outages throughout 2011, the safety and security of cloud computing has been continually called into question.
These fears – enhanced by several high profile outages – have not only damaged the individual relationships between businesses and their customers, but they have further served to tarnish the reputation of cloud services. The outages have also served to reinforce the misconception that while useful for non-core applications, the safety and security of mission critical applications in the cloud is still questionable.
A recent industry survey concluded that on average, each minute of an outage costs businesses nearly £9,000. Statistics like this demonstrate exactly why research conducted by Vanson Bourne found that only 10 percent of CIOs are ‘completely confident’ in the security and resilience of third party cloud solutions.
And as we’ve seen over the past year, downtime which affects business as usual can destroy the trust and relationship between organisations and their customers. Too many high profile businesses have been left with their reputations in tatters following prolonged cloud outages. Though it’s the major outages that have hit the front pages this year, even the smaller outages can have a huge knock-on effect.
If a business suffers a short outage and is unable to fulfil a customer’s order or loses their data the damage to that relationship can take months or even years to fix. When an outage can be so costly to a business’ reputation as well as their revenues it’s no surprise that CIOs are approaching the cloud with extreme caution.
Research from Datamation has revealed that 70 percent of businesses that suffer a major data loss are simply unable to recover and eventually close down within 18 months. Clearly, a cloud outage is not just about the loss of revenue but can have devastating consequences for the reputation of organisation and, in the worst case scenario, could end up costing you your business.
Practical Steps to a Brighter Cloud
Despite the perceived difficulty in moving to the cloud, by simply following a three top tips businesses can be assured that their data is more resilient and secure in the cloud than ever before:
1. Pick a cloud provider that you can trust
Technology is complex and problems can happen to anyone – operational and security related. If you are going to put sensitive company information, or mission critical business processes under someone else’s management you need to know them, their IT operation and their future strategy very well.
2. Data availability must be one of your top priorities
Don’t treat data availability as an afterthought, if you can’t access your data when you need it then why bother storing it! Make sure you challenge your provider to ensure they have built availability into their plans for cloud and are not just blinding you with the cost induced benefits of their offerings.
3. Don’t think that highly resilient clouds aren’t just for large enterprises
It’s perfectly possible and affordable to have a secure, resilient shared cloud environment – without the expense of your own data centres or staff to operate them – and still know exactly where your data is stored and your applications are running.
Ensure You Have 100% faith in Your Cloud – Whatever the Flavour
The key point to remember when making the transition to the cloud is that businesses must trust their cloud provider before they can be entrusted with an organisation’s data and infrastructure. They absolutely have to know if they are able to get their data back, or indeed if the ability to transfer their data from a cloud vendor back in-house, or to another vendor in the future exists.
In many ways, addressing issues relating to cloud and data availability is as much about cultural and internal thinking as technology. Ultimately, if organisations are savvy about the choices they make and ask the right questions – including tough questions around resilience – the technology has the potential to impact on the business in many positive ways.