Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Will Cloud Computing Prompt My Business Free-Fall? Security Concerns in Cloud Computing

The latest trend in global technology is implementing and developing programs that work within “The Cloud.” Even traditional services like online fax and word processors are going completely virtual. Of course, as with anything, with the cloud’s dissenters have grown with its popularity. Some shy away from cloud computing, claiming that it’s really not as cheap as it seems when you do the number crunching. And business owners have an even bigger concern: security.

But maybe we shouldn’t be so paranoid. One of the cloud’s biggest “pro’s” is its flexibility — its ability to be tailored to the specific needs of each company. Take advantage of this flexibility without risking the security of your data and your business by looking for a provider who can address all of your concerns. Ask about where they store and access your data, who on their team has access to any of your sensitive information and whether or not your data is segregated from their other customers.
Do your research to make sure that your cloud organization has back-up power. They should have a methodical disaster recovery plan. They also need to have the ability to support you if you need to do an investigation. Finally, they should be financially stable and viable for the long term so that you don’t have to worry about losing your data in the case that they go out of business or merge with someone else. Another thing to think about up front is making sure they would support you if you decide to take your data back in-house or move it to another service provider – in what detail and format would they give you your data or are you locked in for the long term?

The best way to allay your fears of cloud computing security risk? Get smart! Know the details about cloud computing before diving into a specific program. This will allow you to make informed business decisions — decisions that you will feel confident about. If you want to expand your knowledge of cloud computing, reference the “Effectively Using and Securing the Cloud Computing Paradigm” at www.itbusinessedge.com. This presentation, developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, will tell you everything you wanted to know about the cloud. To learn more about cloud computing, please read the following article: What Is Cloud Computing? Defining the Cloud.

One way to mitigate security risk is to select a name brand company such as HP or Microsoft as your provider. Another method is to hire a “cloud certified” technology professional such as those trained by CloudSchool.com or 3Tera. The most widely used platform right now is Amazon Web Services, so an AWS certification may be more relevant for you. Trained information technology gurus can help you to implement a variety of cloud solutions in a way that you can trust. Finally, the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) is a not-for-profit organization that is led by a coalition of industry practitioners and corporations that serves to promote the use of best practices for providing security assurance within Cloud Computing. You can use their website for many security related resources and to identify member companies that are CCSK certified.

Dive into the cloud with full confidence by doing your homework first and ensuring that you can trust your cloud providers.

James Kim is a writer for Choosewhat.com, which provides product reviews and test data for business services and products. Choosewhat.com's goal is to help small companies make informed buying decisions on business solutions that help their business.

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