By Dave Knight
There is an awful lot of discussion around cloud computing and security, and when I tell people that I work with a number of cloud providers the first question to come up is always, “how secure is it really?”
The answer is, I don’t know. I’m not that technical and I’m not going to argue with people who are far more technically competent than me anymore than I would debate modern economics with Adam Smith, if he was still alive.
But here is what I do know. The major cloud vendors including Google, Amazon Web Services and others spend more on security than New Zealand’s entire GDP. Well, maybe not, but you get my point.
For anyone in New Zealand to think they can secure their on-premise email server or storage more tightly than major cloud providers needs to think again. Especially when most business hate paying insurance companies for business insurance, let alone technical consultants to mitigate (technology)risks of things that ‘only happen to others’! As a consequence most businesses have very weak security when compared to the cloud.
Admittedly cloud providers do make a big target, but then if I am just looking to take control of a mail server to spam the world selling knock off medication, hot dates or porn, I would probably target the local accountant’s mail server, not Google’s.
There are issues of data sovereignty when it comes to citizen data being in the cloud. For example do I want my health records, which could identify me, being stored in a database in another jurisdiction when that data’s privacy is subject to that jurisdiction’s privacy law? Maybe, but probably not. If it was Australia it might be OK. The UK, perhaps. But Nigeria, heck no! For now, let’s keep that local.
But most other data is no problem. Why couldn’t the location of a government service be on a Google map served up from anywhere in the world? After-all if we serve it up locally to the world via the internet, the world then has that data anyway. Same for Statistics New Zealand data, much of which is already freely available. Just like crime data, property information, natural hazards and probably the Colonels secret recipe – I must Google that!
Do I want my council, or the government, spending millions per annum to buy and manage technology infrastructure that can be procured as a service in the cloud for a fraction of the cost? No more than I want them to grow their own tea and coffee so they ‘know exactly what it’s made of and how it is configured’.
The cloud is here and, in the case of reputable providers, because of their size and scale, it is likely to be far more secure than most on premise options in New Zealand. Don’t be careless, and do your research, but you could likely save yourself a lot of time and money while improving overall business capability and performance, by leveraging the cloud.
You’re probably already using Facebook, LinkedIn, Skype, Twitter, Gmail/Yahoo or Hotmail, DropBox, WebEx, Spotify, GoogleDocs, Office365 or a myriad of other cloud based solutions. Why not do the same in your place of work? The cloud awaits your business.