Building Greater Trust in the Cloud

Arthur Cole
Slide Show

Executive Insights for Building Trust in the Cloud

We all seem to like the cloud, but do we trust it? Apparently, not as much as many cloud providers would like.

According to a new study from Compuware, nearly 80 percent of cloud users feel their SLAs are “too simplistic” and gloss over a number of management, security and other risk factors that arise when migrating data and applications to third-party resources. These include lack of visibility into underlying infrastructure and the impact that overall traffic and data loads have on performance within multitenant environments. And in many cases, no clear-cut procedures are provided for identifying and rectifying performance issues.

This is probably part of the reason few organizations have committed themselves fully to cloud-based operations. A recent study by Infosecurity Europe noted that while 83 percent of businesses back up some of their data to the cloud, about half have kept their cloud loads to less than half of their overall data. At the same time, more than 40 percent feel that their data in the cloud is not secure and have reported trouble accessing data from their provider. And 37 percent say that their provider has actually lost some of their data.

Naturally, the emerging cloud industry takes this question of trust very seriously. Every time a marquee provider like Amazon or Box reports a failure, the ripple effect is felt by all. To help increase the trust factor, the Cloud Industry Forum and the Data Centre Alliance have joined forces to devise a set of best practices and information-sharing platforms aimed at increasing transparency and reliability on the cloud, coupled with an outreach program designed to enlighten enterprise clients of these efforts.

A key step in this direction would be a new language that would quantify issues of trust across disparate digital environments, says Intel’s Trust and Security Manager Claire Vishik. Something along the lines of a pure XML language would go a long way toward clarifying the needs of users and the intentions of developers as new cloud applications are put into service. Diversity among cloud environments is a boon to service, but it can also produce varying degrees of performance and complicate efforts to drill down into underlying infrastructure and architectures. A common language across clouds would at least provide some continuity as the enterprise seeks to devise low-cost, high-performance data environments.

No matter who you are or what service you provide, trust is not a right. It must be earned. As more enterprises find their way onto the cloud and more of the data load migrates to third-party infrastructure, trust will grow for those who deserve it and will flee from those who don’t.

Industry efforts to build trust will lend some commonality across diverse infrastructure, but in the end it will be up to cloud providers themselves to overcome the skepticism. The best way to do that is to offer clients a square deal and then live up to those promises.

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