Cloud computing is changing the way companies do business. Instead of housing all of your data and IT components on-site, business professionals are now moving to host and store their information over a network—the cloud.
Whether you have all of your IT resources in the cloud or you are just looking to move a few of your business applications there, it can be scary to think of your information as just “out there”.
Cloud computing can be a great time and money saver, but you also need to trust the system. The following tips can help you build trust in using the cloud:
Do your research on the type of cloud architecture you need—private, public or a hybrid of both. The level of security provided in each instance will drive your cloud services decision.
- Private clouds: This is a cloud service that is usually maintained on your company’s own network. Private clouds offer high levels of security but require most of the normal software, personnel and infrastructure to maintain.
- Public clouds: This is a service usually provided over the Internet, off-site in someone else’s data center. They are much less under our control and potentially present more risk than private clouds.
- Hybrid clouds: Hybrids allow you to choose which aspects of your business you house on-site/privately and which are in a public arena. In most cases, a hybrid solution places some components of an overall solution in a public cloud, while the remaining components are placed either in a private network or private cloud.
Support and upgrades
A great cloud provider should offer easy and deep customization levels for application configuration. Cloud computing allows your organization to evolve as it relates to your application development. Check into the upgrade functionality of your cloud provider, especially as it’s related to applications—they should happen seamlessly with minimal work on your part.
Create your own guidelines and standards for cloud computing just as you would for on-site computing. Define upfront who is responsible for which pieces and the policies your company and staff members will follow. Set rigorous controls for moving data from point A (on-site) to point B (the cloud).
It’s important to understand the compliance and security settings your chosen cloud provider or application provides. The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) is a good resource for this. CSA launched the Security, Trust & Assurance Registry (STAR), a free, public registry that documents the security controls provided by various cloud computing offerings. STAR is designed to help you assess the security of your security cloud provider—whether you’re currently using one or looking to use a particular provider.
Whether you are currently using cloud services or are only beginning to consider them, it is important to understand how much of the service and your data you are willing to delegate to an outside provider and how much needs to be kept private, within your direct control. Cost and resource efficiencies are positive characteristics of cloud services. Conversely, reduced control and increased risk are the other side of the coin. Never fear, there are resources to help support your decision.