Thursday, 1st October 2020

Embracing cloud transformation in times of security challenges

The cloud services industry is growing at a breakneck pace. A recent industry projection puts the public cloud market on a growth trajectory of 17.5 percent this year to $214.3 billion, up from $182.4 billion in 2018. For an industry that is growing at this pace, I cannot help but wonder why there are still high levels of concern amongst consumers about the cloud - 60 percent of SMEs in the UK feel that their cloud services are not as secure as they should be. This statistic came from a recent Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) report and in light of the scale of cloud adoption deserves further exploration. By Chris Burden, Chief Commercial Officer at Memset.

The challenge is that as organisations use the cloud more often for more things, such dependency has increased their sensitivity to security issues. The scale and sophistication of cyberthreats has also grown, adding to this concern. The complexity of IT infrastructure has also increased as SMEs have not moved to the cloud wholesale but have taken a more iterative approach. The result is a wider data landscape, with some data stored with cloud providers, some staying in house on legacy servers, and even the development of multi-cloud strategies with multiple cloud providers.Today’s C-suite professionals are therefore juggling between IT outsourcing, choosing the right cloud model, and ensuring data and regulatory compliance for their business. Needless to say, any slipup in the later can lead to massive reputational and financial damage.

Choosing a cloud vendor is a matter of serious trust. Management must be careful and develop a good understanding of the data security processes and policies of the vendor before signing on the dotted lines. That is easier said than done though, when you think about the skills and experience that you need to assess a potential supplier. Too often the reality is that business leaders, especially in SMEs who typically have fewer resources, assume suppliers will just get on and keep their data secure. This misunderstanding about how or whether data is being kept secure can be compounded by a lack of transparency from the cloud provider, creating distrust amongst the end users. This is starting to show as 51 per cent of those interviewed by CIF also said that their cloud partnerships do not ensure compliance with global data regulations, making them worry about data protection issues. A very troubling statement which reinforces the need for a concrete solution.

As an insider from the cloud services industry, I feel it is my professional responsibility to demystify the trappings of big vendors and help struggling SMEs make the correct choice. I strongly believe that managed cloud services can offer better security and regulatory solutions for SMEs that are struggling with data management. Cloud security will get a further boost if CIOs and CTOs make it a priority to upskill their employees in a bid to tackle the ongoing security challenge. While choosing a cloud provider, tech leaders must ensure that llicensing contracts are flexible to allow switching if necessary. This would also help identify any vulnerabilities and seek new partnerships whenever necessary. I must also add that while it is important that a cloud provider take ownership of data security, the ultimate responsibility can never be shifted from the end-user. While businesses can outsource delivery, unfortunately they can’t outsource responsibility.

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