The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

June - 2011 - issue > Technology

Building Trust in the Cloud

Pravin Kothari
Monday, June 6, 2011
Pravin Kothari
Use of cloud computing continues to grow at a healthy pace. Independent research firm Forrester Research expects the global cloud computing market to reach $241 billion in 2020. There are a ton of articles and resources available on cloud computing, however a lot less is said about “Can the cloud be trusted?” Hence, I would like to rather focus this article on the trust issue with public cloud which is the biggest impediment to public cloud adoption in enterprises.

Cloud Computing and Sensitive Data Despite the accelerating adoption in small and mid markets, cloud adoption is not a slam-dunk for enterprises. They still think long and hard about moving applications and their data to the public cloud from traditional on-premise computing models. Even though the benefits of cloud computing are significant, like the economies of scale, the potential cost savings, fast deployment and easy scalability. So, what is holding up adoption beyond inertia? For many enterprises, the essential questions about security, data privacy and compliance remain unanswered. Enterprises are resisting migrating their applications containing sensitive data, core processes and valuable assets to publicly accessible cloud due to significant concerns with security and compliance, leaving huge untapped potential for further adoption.

Data Security in Cloud A major concern
According to the Goldman Sachs Equity Research Report of 2011, 70 percent of the CIOs surveyed express major concerns about data security in the cloud. Their concerns include loss of transparency and control over business data, where it resides and how it is protected in a given cloud infrastructure. The recent large-scale Epsilon data breach affected over a hundred enterprise clients including BestBuy, Capital One, Ritz-Carlton, JPMorgan Chase, Capital One, Citi and Walgreens, along with tens of millions of consumers. Another recent massive data theft outbreak was reported by Sony, which lost personal and financial information including credit card and date of birth, belonging to more than 100 million users to hackers. Each such data breach incident adds to the concerns about cloud data security.

Specific concerns include:
* Loss of ­­governance: The data is outside IT's direct control, yet its misuse may have significant impact on privacy and intellectual property claims. * Regulatory compliance: Although regulated data may reside in the cloud, the obligation of regulatory compliance still falls with an organization that 'owns' the data than the cloud service provider.
* Lack of transparency: Clouds are not transparent: Rarely do cloud service providers share details on how their services work, which third-party partners are associated with them, location of their data centers and where exactly the data is stored including backups. Enterprises are not able to get enough information about how and when their data is accessed by provider’s users, where it is stored and copied, and when it is purged. Also, there is a risk of provider’s malicious insiders accessing sensitive data. Without transparency, organizations have to take it on faith that their data’s confidentiality and integrity are fully protected.

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