As the hype about the benefits of cloud computing continues to flow, an obvious question relates to why the adoption rate isn’t higher than it is projected to be over the next couple of years. There is a widely accepted view that the lack of control that is inherent in cloud computing creates security challenges and is a primary factor in the modest cloud adoption rate. This trend appears to be consistent across industries, including the public sector – here’s some results relating to the Federal government adoption of cloud. And, some surveys have quantified more specifically what these specific security concerns generally are.
On our website (www.ca.com), we often conduct simple, quick surveys to measure the views of our visitors, generally knowledgeable decision-makers. A recent survey measured the reasons that prevented a more widespread adoption of cloud models, and the results were not only consistent with what we expected, but were also very strongly supportive of the primacy of security as the primary cloud inhibitor. This graphic summarizes the results from 606 responses taken in March 2012:
But, although this view that “security is the problem” is the common wisdom, a growing body of experience and analyst opinion points to the fact that one might even be able to achieve greater security as cloud adoption increases. Here is one example, and another one, of pundits who make convincing arguments that security does not need to be sacrificed as some IT functions are moved to the cloud.
I think it boils down to control. IT security managers feel that they can’t control what they don’t manage – and there is certainly some truth to that. But, organizations have been outsourcing key functions for years (e.g. ADP, SalesForce, etc) without having any crippling security concerns or issues, at least for the most part. The symmetric capability to control is transparency. If you don’t have control, then you must have transparency into the operations of the people or groups that do have control – specifically, your cloud service provider. If you have sufficient visibility into the security controls that your provider has deployed, and if these controls are equivalent to what you would have in your own on-premise environment ( and cloud service providers often offer better controls than what many organizations provide), then most security concerns that are inhibiting cloud adoption might be overstated.
What’s your view?