Hello, good to see you again, take a seat. Are you comfortable? That's great. Now, I understand that you have fears and anxieties about moving your business IT needs to the cloud.
I want you to relax, you're in a very safe and open place, so just take a few deep breaths.
Now that you're feeling calmer, let's discuss your anxieties surrounding cloud.
I see you’re an IT Manager for a large organisation. What are you tasked to do? On top of IT project management for a business, aren’t you responsible for the security of the entire business network?
This must be a huge burden especially when tasked with managing this yourself in-house. I see why you may have considered cloud computing as a means of taking this burden away from you and your teams, and putting the responsibility into the hands of experts.
Yet you still seem to have some worries. Let's take some time now, and we'll discuss some of the main concerns you may have.
Fear of the UNKNOWN: Most business professionals have heard about cloud computing, yet if you were to ask a room full of people what it is exactly, you would probably get a range of different answers. In short, the term 'cloud computing' suggests storing and accessing data and programs over the internet instead of your computer's hard drive. When you think about accessing your online banking, storing music and photos online, utilising email (outside of a business' internal server), and connecting via social media and networking platforms - brace yourself, because these services all rely on cloud technology. See, you've already been using cloud without even realising it! Accepting that cloud is a part of our everyday lives, is the first step towards working through your fears and anxieties.
Fear of SECURITY compromises: You should want to feel safe, and that goes for your personal and business life. I can understand this fear, security is vitally important and much has been made in the media about private companies who have had their business security compromised. The fact is, lapses in business security happen irrespective to the adoption of cloud. A lot of these problems stem from human error, so using an on-premise solution or appliance, is not any more secure than what it is in the cloud. While appliance security is the responsibility of your IT Administrator, this in itself is a full-time job. And I bet with everything else an IT person has to deal with, your business security is another item on an already overloaded plate. Moving to the cloud doesn't leave your IT department out of a job, it simply relieves some of these pressures, and assists IT staff to put their skills towards more productive business IT needs. There are a range of cloud services that can actually help you to mitigate security risks in the first place, for example, cloud email and web filtering. Cloud security can provide around the clock monitoring and consistent real-time updates and improvements to the security surrounding your business. It pays to do your research when searching for cloud providers and look for those providers who have tight Service Level Agreements in place, to help you in understanding how your data is stored, transmitted and secured.
Fear of a lapse in DATA PROTECTION:
When discussing cloud, one of the most common questions raised is “Will my data be safe in the cloud?” Have you ever considered how vulnerable your server could be within the vicinity of your own office? With cloud computing, your data can be stored in one or more secure, off-premise data centres. Think for just a moment, what would happen if you were to lose your current hard drive or server? This can occur through a server breaking down, theft, fire, natural disaster or human error. Compare this with your ability to store data in the cloud where it can be stored within multiple geographically dispersed data centres, protected through high level encryption, and provided with continuous backup (depending on your cloud provider). You have the ability to then access your data anytime, anywhere. You can see how cloud actually lessens the chance of your business losing critical business data.
Fear and concerns over OWNERSHIP and PRIVACY:
In the vast webscape, things that are posted or shared online through social media are often very difficult to wrangle back in once they get out, which explains why people have a fear about who owns their data when it is held in the cloud. The right cloud vendor will be completely transparent about who owns your data, and they should stipulate that is 'you' and only you. While you own the data, you may raise concerns about who has access to it. Again, a reputable vendor should make your privacy a priority. As you may have already seen in the media many times over the past year, some larger organisations can, and will scan data such as email content for information that is then used to target advertising to users.
Fear over loss of CONTROL:
Loss of control is often a fear associated with cloud. With an on-premise solution, your IT department controls every aspect of your data storage, so there is less fear and a complacent attitude that their data will be hacked under their watchful eye compared to if it was stored somewhere else. There is actually no evidence to suggest that data stored on-premise is any less likely to be hacked than data stored in the cloud. In relation to on-premise software, IT staff also know that your software is up-to-date because they have had to purchase and update it themselves. With cloud or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), the most recently available software is updated instantaneously through the cloud. By handing over the control of these types of updates, and by not having to worry about keeping servers running, completing patch ups and backing up data - IT departments will have more time to work on other business IT projects. Best of all, with cloud you have a host of benefits such as scalable storage and improved collaboration across your business. With cloud, businesses don't have to rely on the expensive infrastructure and software required with on-premise services, so IT needs become less complex (where you may require an internal security expert for example), and therefore much less expensive.
So now we have covered the biggest fears associated with cloud, you can see the many possibilities that cloud provides with regards to your business efficiency and productivity. When you come to understand the flexibility cloud offers and the fact that you won't need to spend your business IT budget on new servers and upgrading existing hardware/software, not to mention all the man-hours your IT staff spend on maintaining and monitoring servers - you will see that your biggest fear should be all the business opportunities you could miss out on if you don't open up and experience everything cloud has to offer.
I hope this has alleviated your current fears and anxieties around cloud, for a more in-depth view of Cloud vs On-premise solutions, take a look at this informative article produced by MailGuard.