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Cloud Computing: Overcome your Fears and Ascend to the Cloud

Cloud Computing: Overcome your Fears and Ascend to the Cloud

Fear Moving to the CloudYou hear it every day. Another negative opinion on cloud computing. More and more naysayers in your organization, in the news, and in the latest blog. The real question, why? When properly managed, utilization of cloud computing is safer and more reliable than on-premise solutions. We’re here to help you overcome your fears and discover more about the safest options in Cloud computing.

Common Fears and Concerns about Cloud Computing

Cloud service companies offer growing businesses advanced surveillance systems, cutting-edge encryption methods, third-party certs and regular testing against attacks that few small and medium size businesses can approach in-house.

From lowering barriers-to-market to readily available enterprise-quality hardware at competitive rates, cloud computing has big advantages for businesses.   The conversation is shifting from should small businesses adopt cloud solutions to how small businesses connect with the right provider.

Related: 4 Benefits of the Cloud

Cloud computing offers companies sophisticated technology that’s customizable without a large up-front investment. However, a recently released study shows that 73% of IT executives believe cloud providers are hiding performance problems.

A study by Compuware Corp., a provider of cloud-based collaboration and performance management tools, found that nearly three quarters of enterprise IT professionals worry that cloud providers are hiding problems at an infrastructure or platform level, and that those problems could have an impact on application performance.

Related: Truths about Cloud Data

Industry analysts say IT professionals are smart to be cautious, but added that they need to do their homework and ask the right questions before selecting a vendor.

Enterprises are still fairly new to the cloud computing phenomenon, but have long read headlines about cloud outages and security breaches, which seems to be reason enough to make any executive nervous.

Understanding the Cloud, Overcoming Fears, and Planning for Success

Analysts and technology opinion leaders offer advice on what to expect, what to know and what to ask. Understanding the security of cloud solutions, the trends in the industry, and the history of the company with whom you work are all important factors.

Related: Intacct vs. Netsuite

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at ZK Research, said it is possible that a cloud provider may whitewash issues like compute process speed and security problems.

“Yeah, [the fears are] justified,” he said. “You pay for a service and hope it works. Also, companies have no real control over the hiring policies and security checks that the cloud provider uses.”

However, Kerravala noted that enterprises simply must do their homework before choosing a cloud provider.

IT should be up front about security concerns, and should ask vendors about hiring practices, what kind of internal audits they use and how they protect against threats. The IT execs should ask for audit information, performance benchmarks and where data is going to be stored, since some companies are mandated to store their data in the U.S.

Related: Economics of the Cloud

Kerravala also recommended that IT operations perform their own performance benchmarks of a cloud provider’s offering. Track the performance of the service and if it seems to be declining, call the cloud provider out on it.

“I will say, though, most cloud providers probably have better security controls than most companies,” he added.

Jeff Kagan, an independent analyst, said he’s not surprised that IT execs are anxious about the cloud. It’s a new area and anyone jumping in, even now, is still considered an early adopter.

“Early adopters know they’ll get new services but they’ll also have to deal with problems. The problems are just coming up and they don’t have a fix yet. Yeah, they look hot with this new technology but they’re the ones dealing with the problems. Some companies will adopt it late because they don’t want to deal with any problems at all.”

Kagan recommended that enterprises work with multiple providers. They also should ask about any problems the provider has had in the last six months to a year. And be sure to talk to other customers.

“Realize that every […] provider will have problems,” he said. “The real issue is how quickly they deal with them. And you’re going to find that out by talking with other customers.”

Rebello said while companies should be cautious about the cloud, they certainly shouldn’t ignore its advantages.

“The cloud provides benefits but go at a pace that makes you feel comfortable,” he added. “It’s not a technology that you should shirk but try to get as much information as you can. Look at it and then move some applications that have lower security implications for the company. Move those first. And make sure you have a gradual transition.”

If your company is uncomfortable porting sensitive data onto the public cloud, use a private cloud exclusive to your company for your vital processing tasks and the public cloud for less sensitive tasks. Personal physical servers are unnecessary in nearly all cases. Business owners are prudent to be cautious but, at minimum, a diligent CIO should be exploring hybrid cloud solutions.

5 Questions to Ask Cloud Providers Before Signing

In order to ensure security, there are certain things that you need to know and ask cloud providers. Thanks to CIO Magazine for their recent article featuring questions you need to ask cloud providers.

  1. How long has the company been in business?
  2. Where are their servers located? (“Storing your data in multiple data centers or regions around the world can help you survive local and regional outages,” says Casey Rosenthal, director of professional services at Basho, a distributed database provider.
  3. What is their security like? (Is it badge-protected facility with cameras everywhere?) Will they provide a copy of their policies?
  4. Have they had a security audit in the last year and will they share the results?
  5. What assurances are they willing to make, in writing? Three important needs include the following:
    1. Notify you as soon as a breach is detected
    2. Take swift action to work with you to correct the situation
    3. Insure you for loss or theft (if they go bankrupt, say, or law enforcement seizes a server)

Related: 10 More Questions to Ask Your Cloud Provider (Entrepreneur Magazine)

Brittenford Systems is committed to your security in the cloud. Whether in our offering of industry leading solutions through Intacct and Microsoft Dynamics, or our customized solutions in PositivePay and ExpenseConnect, we believe that the best solution is the safest solution. Read through our case studies and whitepapers, and share this with colleagues using the tools below.

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