Cloud Computing Is for the Birds
For data security and safety, it’s better to stick with hardware. Pro or con?
Watch the video—then scroll down to read the debate
Pro: Put Your Trust in On-Site Hardware
The fastest, most secure, and safest way to transport multiple terabytes of data is to pick up your hard drive and physically carry it with you to another location. That’s why the large public cloud providers offer "ship your drives to us and we’ll load the data" services.
This isn’t to say that the benefits offered by cloud storage don’t exist—they’re just not comprehensive. Businesses need data redundancy to protect against individual hard-drive failures. It’s a best practice to have at least one copy of local data in two locations and remote access to data via a browser or smartphone; the cloud is still lacking here. Modern on-premise storage devices provide all of these benefits fully under your control, at a much lower cost than a hosted solution can offer, and without the lag time of the Internet.
As anyone who has tried to upload a large presentation knows, the public Internet can move very slowly. And as anyone knows who has lost crucial information when a vendor unexpectedly doesn’t perform, putting your business (e-mail, documents, financials) entirely in the hands of others—including cloud storage companies you’ve never used before—can turn disastrous.
Smart companies value external data hosters, cloud or otherwise, for what they are: useful backup resources and occasional recovery mechanisms for ancillary or temporary assistance. But as anyone who’s ever waited impatiently for an e-mail to download can tell you, for data speed, security, and safety, it’s better to stick with on-premise hardware.
Con: Don’t Let Data Walk out the Door
Case in point: Epsilon’s and now Sony’s (SNE) data breaches. A single person was able to steal the personal information of millions of people. According to the Ponemon Institute, a research organization, 80 percent of U.S. companies have experienced a data breach. So how can we assume that using hardware means more secure data?
It’s not that cloud computing providers are immune. The cloud business, by its very nature, puts them in the security business. They’ve invested heavily in securing their infrastructures with the latest and greatest security technologies, and they employ top experts. Security threats are evolving at a rapid pace, and cloud businesses make it their job to stay on top of them and ensure the safety of every customer’s data.
From my conversations with enterprise executives, I’ve gathered that security remains a great concern, but it’s less of a hurdle today for those who have done their due diligence. Enterprises are finding that cloud computing allows them to focus on their core business without the burden of maintaining an IT infrastructure. The most security-sensitive enterprises around the world are kicking the tires of the leading cloud platforms and demanding the highest levels of security, which benefit all of us.
We no longer generate our own electricity or keep money under our mattresses (at least no one I know does). Likewise, IT has also evolved. The presence of hardware alone no longer provides a sense of security.