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Cloud Computing – Vision Splendid and Stark Reality

Date Added: November 29, 2011 09:18:58 AM
Author: Astal Mark
Category:
Cloud computing is popular but it pays to examine the pitfalls, to ensure that you manage the IT security risk when putting your data into the hands of cloud service providers. Experts tell us it’s inevitable, IT vendors extol its benefits, journalists report its rapid adoption rates, evangelists enthuse about cheap computing on demand, and service providers promise to deliver the lot. Are the benefits of Cloud Computing really so compelling, and what are the implications for IT security, data security, compliance and governance? Opinions are divided. ‘By 2020, everything is likely to be in the cloud,’ Jim Reavis, CEO of the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) predicted last year. Around the same time, Oracle chief Larry Ellison told an audience at Openworld that the computer industry was more fashion-driven than women’s fashion, and that Cloud Computing was simply the latest fashion in IT. In May 2011, EMC CEO Joe Tucci told the audience at EMC World that this was the year ‘... when people realise the cloud will provide them maximum control and agility in their business.’ If anything, the rush to the cloud has gathered momentum with big players like IBM, HP and Microsoft joining Google and Amazon. HP Labs talks about delivering ‘the secure application and computing end-state of “Everything-as-a-Service”.’ The ‘end-state’ is described as ‘billions of users securely accessing millions of services through thousands of service providers, over millions of servers ...’ Meanwhile, experts caution that cloud services vendors provide a central point of access for multiple companies, a real boon for hackers. This is precisely what happened when Epsilon Interactive was hacked in May 2011, and millions of names and email addresses from 50 of its client organizations were stolen. Epsilon provides email marketing services for some 2,500 clients which include Citigroup, JP Morgan and Dell Australia. ‘As the data protection services become more popular, [organisations like this] will increasingly become the focus of attacks,’ warns Josh Corman, Director of Research for The 451 Group. ‘Putting more eggs into fewer baskets leads to massive breaches,’ Corman says. ‘It is a force multiplier.’ Gartner Research vice-president Frank Ridder summed up the state of the cloud this way: ‘The hype around Cloud computing services has increased interest, as well as caution, for CIOs trying to determine where, when and if Cloud services can provide valuable outcomes for their businesses.
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