Is cloud computing a risky business?

The Liberal Democrats expressed fears about the future of cloud computing at their conference this week, urging the government to look into security around cloud computing to stop the abuse of people’s data.

Cloud computing is growing at a phenomenal rate, with both private and public sector companies increasingly looking towards the cloud as an alternative to onsite IT management, saving both time and money. In fact, according to research by Gartner, the number of organisations using on-demand computing is expected to rise to 43% within the next four years.

However, some industry leaders share the Lib Dems concerns surrounding the cloud including whether data is going to be held safely and securely. While cloud security should indeed be a concern, and an industry body is welcome (as recommended by the Lib Dems), it’s important to address these fears without overreacting or panicking.

Without a doubt, organisations need to carefully consider the potential risks before moving across to the cloud. Cloud computing is not necessarily a bigger risk than in-house IT, it’s just a different risk. This is why choosing a reputable cloud provider is paramount.

A reputable organisation will ensure you have the right type of cloud platform and will ensure that data security is a key priority, including data protection once the data is in the cloud. They will also ensure that the data is sufficiently backed-up and that you know where it is physically located.

Variation in data protection regulations means that different territories have different data protection regimes so it’s vital to be clear where the data is going to be physically stored and what security measures are in place to safeguard this data. Would you be happy knowing, for example that your data was located in a poorly regulated country or a country which is technologically inferior to the UK?

For those still in doubt, it’s important to remember that IT hosted in the cloud is arguably more secure than an internally managed IT system. This is because the cloud provider’s data centre is likely to be equipped with a very high level of security with robust back-up processes in place. In comparison, many companies’ onsite systems are still housed in poorly secured offices!

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For 26 years Neil Cross was an integral figure within the successful IBM midrange solutions house, Chorus, in which he was heavily involved with both IBM and Microsoft. Neil was Chorus' technical architect for many years before taking on the role of Managing Director in 1999. Following Chorus’s acquisition by Computer Software Group plc in 2003 Neil continued to work as a key member of the management team. In 2008, Neil decided to take a career break to go travelling with his family. He returned to the UK in 2009 to become managing director of leading managed services and cloud computing provider, Advanced 365, formerly Business Systems Group. Neil is now helping to shape Advanced 365’s exciting future as part of the rapidly expanding Advanced Computer Software group headed-up by respected CEO Vin Murria.