Cloud computing brings massive benefits-but make sure your service provider is reliable

Today, cloud computing generates a lot of hype; it’s both promising and scary.

November 21, 2013

Today, cloud computing generates a lot of hype; it’s both promising and scary. Businesses see its potential but also have many concerns – one of them being security.

This is according to Johann Evans, chief technical officer of Cherry Olive, the unified data management specialist.

“Cloud computing is certainly one of the most exciting developments to hit the computer world over the last decade, and there is no doubt that it offers a host of incredible advantages – including financial and technological advantages.

“But,” said Evans, “security remains a big concern when it comes to cloud computing. This is because although the concept of time-shared remote services isn’t new, cloud computing infrastructures use new technologies and services, some of which haven’t been fully evaluated with respect to security.

“Security is considered one of the most critical aspects in everyday computing, and it is no different for cloud computing due to the sensitivity and importance of data stored in the cloud. This is something vendors and users have to be acutely aware of,” said Evans. “This includes the risk of malicious insiders in the cloud and the failing of cloud services – which have received strong attention by companies.”

But, besides the security risk – which must always be a major consideration for all players the loop, cloud computing offers a myriad of benefits that just cannot be ignored.

Firstly, cloud computing offers users unlimited flexibility, with access to millions of different databases, and the ability to combine them into customised services.

Secondly, if handled correctly, cloud computing offers better reliability and security -as users no longer need to worry about their hardware failure, or hardware being stolen.

Thirdly, cloud computing offers enhanced collaboration by enabling online sharing of information and applications – and “certainly offers users new ways of working together”, noted Evans.

“Other advantages include portability as users can access their data from anywhere, at anytime. Users can also harness simpler devices as data is stored and processed in the cloud. Users simply need an interface to access and use this data.

“Then there are other major advantages such as the access to unlimited storage for a relatively minimum charge-and access to lightning quick processing.
“Even with all these massive benefits, trust between the service provider and the customer, today, is one of the main issues cloud computing faces. There is no way for the customer to be sure whether management of the Service is trustworthy- and whether there is any risk of insider attacks. This is a major issue and has, increasingly, received strong attention by companies.

“The only legal document between the customer and service provider is the Service Level Agreement (SLA). This document contains all the agreements between the customer and the service provider; it contains what the service provider is doing and is willing to do. However, there is currently no clear format for the SLA, and, because of this, there may be services not documented in the SLA that the customer may be unaware of-that will be needed at some time in the future. But a tight-written SLA is definitely a way to start,” said Evans.