Remember my story about getting stuck in a traffic jam? . I was on my way to talk about cloud services with CIOs from Malaysia when I discovered something interesting: despite a distance of 14,000 kilometers between Munich and Asia, the topics and concerns are the same.
IT executives recognize the tremendous opportunities cloud services offer in terms of cost efficiency and flexibility. Many feel though, that it sometimes comes with a price tag they consider too high: security. The desire for security is perfectly understandable because attackers are becoming ever more professional while IT landscapes are growing ever more complex. But from a technological point of view, a company network can be just as safe – or vulnerable – as the cloud provider’s assuming that both are using latest technology. Of course, in many cases a cloud provider’s infrastructure and solutions are much safer because providers specialize in these services. Therefore, they know and utilize the latest technology.
For instance, a cloud service provider can leverage the most sophisticated security shields, apply certified best practices and the advantages of well-trained experts simply because it has better economies of scale than an individual customer. In other words, higher security levels are actually easier to achieve in a well-defined state-of-the-art cloud computing data center than in a typical real-world enterprise with its numerous everyday challenges.
But when people talk about security of cloud services, do they really mean it literally? I am strongly convinced that the answer is no! This isn‘t just about security. Whether it’s in Germany or in the Far East, I’ve noticed that when people are saying security, what they really mean is trust. Because that’s ultimately what it’s all about: I ‘entrust’ my data to a cloud service provider.
Trust arises through relationships. It consists of three components: credibility, reliability and genuineness. A Japanese proverb says: If you really want to know something, ask someone experienced rather than someone learned. Today’s social networks – many of which only exist through cloud technology, by the way – make it easier than ever to find the necessary experience and information. You can choose the sources that you find credible; you can learn from the experience of others about a possible partner. But most importantly, you can also get a better feeling for the company culture of a cloud provider. Technologies, markets and sales models change fast – corporate culture does not. So looking at how a provider acted in the past is a good indicator of the three components of trust. And there are some other things that need to be considered: Cloud services consist of hardware, software and services – so you better look for a partner who is experienced in all three disciplines.
In that sense, trusting a cloud service provider is not much different than trusting a hardware vendor to deliver solid hardware, maintenance, and spare parts for the foreseeable service life of your components. After all, your business already relies heavily on IT and you need to trust your servers, storage and network to do exactly what you need. Cloud services only add the phrase “no matter where they are operated and by whom”.
That’s why my advice to the Malaysian CIOs was the same as my advice to their German counterparts:
The right cloud service provider for you is the one who will take your reservations seriously and devise flexible but lasting solutions for you and with you. That’s ultimately the way to obtain a cloud service that really responds to your security and risk needs while contributing to your business success.
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