Every business is built and thrives on financial security, which is why investments in any type of new solution have to be carefully considered to ensure they deliver the desired operational and cost efficiencies. Perhaps this is a major factor in the growing confidence in the cloud, as CFOs recognise that migrating services can achieve significant cost savings, more flexibility for their business and the potential for new revenue streams.
When the initial cloud solutions were first introduced to the market, one area that caused a degree of concern was security. The industry has come a long way since the launch of those first hosted solutions and key providers have worked hard to address security concerns and allay any fears that businesses may have.
The key to good security is flexibility, and businesses need specific solutions that fit in with their individual infrastructure. Regardless of the advantages of the cloud – flexibility, agility, improved capabilities – no business will outsource key operations or storage to a company or solution that cannot give assurances about the safe keeping of information. Cloud providers need to not only be secure, but also show they are secure, particularly to those sectors such as financial services and healthcare, which have natural security concerns.
A one size fits all approach to cloud computing will not meet the security requirements for most companies. Where the security concerns focus on the storage of sensitive customer data, companies need to look for a solution where the physical storage of data, such as voice and audio recordings, remains on the client’s site inside their firewall, so the security and control remains within the corporate headquarters.
There are solutions on the market which also encrypt the storage of the voice recordings. This means, even if someone were to attempt to steal a server, it would be useless as the encryption would prevent them from accessing the data.
Another critical aspect of security relates to questions of where the data actually resides. Where is it? And what happens in the event of a data centre failure or disaster? Depending on the location of the client, the physical location of the data centre is important. Data sovereignty plays a significant role – that is, ensuring that data resides in the same region, for example the EU, that the company is based in. Of course this can change depending on whether the client has multiple, international operations.
The data centre itself features intensive security – both from a physical point of view as well from a cyber-safety perspective, and operators hold various security credentials, relating to everything from information security to compliance for any payment card related data. Physical security at data centres typically sees them manned by security personnel on a 24-hour a day basis.
Servers are protected from attack via firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention software, and anti-virus solutions. Beyond that, however, is the question of availability and resilience. If a data centre should fail, there needs to be the assurance that client data, applications, etc., are still available through redundancy and failover plans.
This typically is accomplished through a mirror site – where data resides in another data centre, updated and backed up in the same way as the primary site and should something happen to the first data centre there is a seamless switchover to the mirror site to ensure that the client’s operations are not affected.
While cloud may not be the ideal option for every organisation, it can provide substantial benefits. When it comes to security concerns, there are occasions where a full migration to the cloud is not the best option for the business.
In this instance, whether it is an application, client data or business critical data, it can be hosted and maintained by the customer on premise, while other applications and data can be successfully hosted in the cloud environment. Ideally, what is needed for the successful deployment of this hybrid approach is a cloud services provider with flexible architecture and the expertise to understand and implement the client’s requirements.
Due to the prevalence of cloud in all aspects of business and social life, the benefits of migrating to cloud outweigh any disadvantages. When considering a move to the cloud environment security remains the most important consideration, but any concerns can be allayed with the right hosting and technology partner.