Business Computing World: Cloud industry still not reassuring end users over security

The IT industry has made little progress during 2012 to reassure end users about their legitimate concerns about migrating to the cloud. According to new research from IT recruiters Robert Half, a quarter of CIOs and IT directors in the UK have no plans to move to the cloud because of concerns about data security, service continuity and ease of management.

Late in 2011, my company also conducted extensive research into the barriers to cloud adoption which yielded remarkably similar results. A poll of 300 senior IT decision-makers found that data security was the biggest concern, with 46 per cent of respondents saying they were afraid of losing in-house control over their systems and data. The same proportion in the Robert Half survey cited security as the biggest barrier to cloud adoption.

This new research found that 36 per cent of users saw service continuity as the main barrier, while 32 per cent cited data integrity. In my company’s research, 35 per cent said service reliability and 28 per cent said ‘confidence over where data is stored’ were their biggest concerns.

The similarity between the two sets of research, conducted some nine months apart, shows how difficult the cloud industry is finding it to answers customers’ concerns about cloud computing. End users are continuing to cite these same areas of concern, which suggests either that there are too few services out there in the market that provide solutions to these problems, or that there has been a collective communications failure by the industry.

In truth, the answers to these legitimate concerns are simple to understand and to communicate. To solve the issue of data sovereignty or integrity, providers must show that customers’ data is not stored in facilities and jurisdictions lacking rigorous safeguards. Service providers, therefore, need to guarantee that their customers’ applications and information is only stored in local, in-country data centres.

The issue of reliability is another commonly cited barrier that can be easily overcome. Users are worried that moving to the cloud will mean they suddenly have two things that could go wrong – the cloud service and the network connectivity – and two providers who can pass the buck in the case of service downtime.

Again, the answer is simple: cloud providers either need to invest in their own network and integrate it into the service, or else they should partner with network providers to offer an holistic service where network provision forms an integral part. While cloud is never going to be perfectly suited to every organisation, a quarter of IT directors dismissing it out of hand is surely too great a proportion for the industry to ignore.

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