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Security: Article

Einstein, Sharks and Clouds: IT Security in the Cloud

Security, while a very real and legitimate concern is relative

What can these things possibly have in common?  In a word - relativity. 

I'm reminded of the old joke, two guys are swimming in the ocean when they notice a shark and one guy takes off swimming towards the boat, while the other says, "What are you doing?  We can't swim faster than a shark", the other replies, "I don't need to swim faster than a shark, just faster than you."

Lately there has been a barrage of articles with regards to cloud security, and some very public demonstrations of outages with Facebook and Twitter.  Its been a field day for many who oppose the cloud computing model.  Let me get this out of the way so that there is no misunderstanding, yes, I agree with most on the need for better security in the cloud, and rest assured, the cloud service providers are motivated to work on it.  That being said, lets move on. 

Security, while a very real and legitimate concern is relative.  While IT security has improved over the years I've been in this business, there are IT security breaches at banks, governments, educational institutions, retailers, and many other organizations which are not using the cloud today.  Just do a simple Google search and you'll find plenty of ammo on the need for better security, cloud or no cloud.

While the discussion of cloud security is certainly a very important one, lets not forget that it's a discussion that's relative to the level of security in the current business environment of those considering moving to the cloud today. 

Many of us who have spent our careers in or around IT recognize many of the security issues that cloud service providers will need to address.  This is particularly true for those that have spent most of that time at large, enterprise organizations.  We have to stop and remind ourselves, who are the prime, early adopter candidates for cloud computing? The answer here seems to be SMB

So lets talk about SMB IT practices for a moment, and lets begin with the smallest of organizations, say 1-20 employees.  Most of these companies can't afford IT staff, have no backup for their business records, have underutilized servers, have no security plan, or what many other IT professionals recognize as best practices in the industry, never mind security.  Disaster, backup and recovery?  Oh, yes, it's that tape backup in the desk next to the computer.  They fax and e.mail "secure" documents around sometimes to the wrong fax or (external) e.mail address - oops, there goes Joe's private medical records.  In these cases, cloud computing begins to look pretty attractive.

We can repeat this story on a gradual scale adding  IT headcount along the way.  How many IT people in a 20-50 employee organization?  50-100, 100-500?  Certainly, some of the aforementioned issues get addressed, though not all, as they're dealing with many IT issues, are probably understaffed, and overwhelmed.  Lets not forget we're talking about small businesses across all industries - accountants, doctors, lawyers, architects, retailers, and others, not necessarily small IT businesses.  Add in the greatest recession since WWII, and well, you can see how the cloud value proposition begins to make sense to many in this segment of the market.  Those small organizations will likely benefit from a move to the cloud, and will be more competitive as a result. 

Last one with the legacy traditional IT environment, please turn off the lights, and try to stay ahead of the sharks.

-Tune The Future-

More Stories By Ray DePena

Ray DePena worked at IBM for over 12 years in various senior global roles in managed hosting sales, services sales, global marketing programs (business innovation), marketing management, partner management, and global business development.
His background includes software development, computer networking, systems engineering, and IT project management. He holds an MBA in Information Systems, Marketing, and International Business from New York University’s Stern School of Business, and a BBA in Computer Systems from the City University of New York at Baruch College.

Named one of the World's 30 Most Influential Cloud Computing Bloggers in 2009, Top 50 Bloggers on Cloud Computing in 2010, and Top 100 Bloggers on Cloud Computing in 2011, he is the Founder and Editor of Amazon.com Journal,Competitive Business Innovation Journal,and Salesforce.com Journal.

He currently serves as an Industry Advisor for the Higher Education Sector on a National Science Foundation Initiative on Computational Thinking. Born and raised in New York City, Mr. DePena now lives in northern California. He can be followed on:

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