Don’t Let Security Misconceptions ‘Cloud’ Your Judgement

What comes to mind when you think about cloud security? Do you think about application security or protecting corporate data? Perhaps you fear virus or phishing attacks? For the past several years, cloud security has been one of the biggest concerns among IT decision makers as they consider how best to transition applications and data out of the corporate data center and into the cloud. The real question is one of perception versus reality.

A perceived lack of cloud security can sometimes stop an IT organization dead in its tracks when they look at the cloud as an option for data storage. Many industries, like healthcare and financial services, have always been held to a higher standard than other organizations when it comes to regulatory compliance and data retention, which prevents them from taking a “risk” on the cloud. This unjustified fear of lax cloud security also means they lose out on all of the business, cost and operational benefits that can come with storing data in the cloud.

The reality is that all of the pieces are in place to enable secure and compliant cloud-based storage environments, and the technology is sound. It’s time that IT organizations rethink their position on cloud security by looking at the facts.

Making the Case for Cloud Storage

The economic benefits that come with storing data in the cloud are too great to ignore for any IT organization struggling with data management. Because cloud storage providers leverage multi-tenant architectures, infrastructure costs are shared across many users. This helps lower costs substantially versus on-site solutions, which require additional provisioning, power, cooling costs, and more.

As data volumes continue to increase, many companies find themselves pushing the capacity, cooling and power limitations of their existing data centers. Meanwhile, regulations require many businesses to keep ever-growing amounts of data for compliance purposes. This three-way balancing act between capacity, compliance and cost requires a flexible, multi-tier approach that makes cloud storage an attractive alternative.

Operational Benefits

While many organizations benefit today from keeping online, deduplicated data copies available for fast recovery, massive growth will still require more disk and tape to contain exploding amounts of data. Cloud storage offers a low-cost tier of storage that enables several new compliance, disaster recovery, and data backup solutions. More readily available than offline vaulted data, cloud-based storage delivers these key use cases to help solve today’s data management problems, including:

  • Tiering data retention to cloud storage, alleviates the need to expand data center capacity or operational costs
  • Archiving stale data to cloud-based storage to free up existing space within the data center
  • Cost-effective Disaster Recovery for Small-and-Medium Enterprises without large upfront and operational investment
  • Content indexing data before moving to cloud to meet Compliance requirements and minimize search/retrieval times during eDiscovery operations
  • Remote office backup directly to cloud-based storage
  • But is My Data Safe?

    There are many aspects to securing data in the cloud. People who move application and email servers into the cloud are concerned with spam, hackers and phishing attacks. Those who are considering the cloud to store data for long-term archiving/retention or disaster recovery are concerned with others gaining access or visibility into vital corporate data. In healthcare, organizations are concerned with regulatory compliance. There is also physical security and the specter of some nameless individual strolling into a cloud service provider’s data center and walking away with a jump drive full of intellectual property. Many IT decision-makers are worried about all of the above.

    Think about the data in terms of your own data center. You have anti-virus and filtering software tools that monitor and prevent email attacks as well as encryption and data storage technologies to meet your needs for compliance, recovery and retention. And it’s a safe bet that cloud service providers have guards protecting their physical sites.

    There are a few things that you should look for, however, to ensure that your data is being protected in the cloud. Your cloud solution should include:

    • Embedded encryption that secures data backup and archive data in-flight or stored within cloud storage
    • Integrated alerting, reporting, and data verification functionality help ensure that data has safely reached the cloud without the risk associated with manual scripting or standalone gateway appliances
    • Native REST/HTTP integration to deliver seamless data and information management across on-site and cloud-based storage architectures
    • Integrated features like deduplication and compression to enable efficient movement of backup and archive data across a network for long-term cloud storage

    It is inevitable that IT organizations will turn to the cloud to keep pace with business demands. It may take time to overcome the fear inherent in handing over control of your data to someone else, but consider this, there was a time when using a credit card online invoked the same type of fear. Nobody wanted to be first to dip their toe in the pool. The technology needed to keep secure, protected and recoverable is here today and adoption will grow. It’s just a matter of time.

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