Many cloud vendors and services have experienced unplanned “hiccups” in security, uptime and reliability, causing a nagging user concern over trusting important business and data to the cloud. With as much as one per cent of users affected by a recent four hour security outage for a major cloud service provider, hundreds of thousands of accounts were left vulnerable and exposed – representing a significant breach for important private, personal and business files, photos and other digital content.
Alternately “troubling” to downright “inexcusable,” these kinds of breaches are downplayed until the media or public outcry helps to shed a light on the true risks. And keep in mind, many cloud services are always tinkering with authentication, security and account privacy in the background. Think of how often Facebook changes the rules on users, and if you don’t pay attention to your account settings, you too may be vulnerable by your own accord, and not even realise it.
At its core, it’s a trust issue.
So how can a small or medium sized business (SMB) hoping to use a cloud service protect itself?
I know it’s summer, but the best way I can illustrate how SMBs can leverage important aspects of cloud services is a snowshoeing analogy. This past winter, Lake Tahoe was blessed with record levels of snowfall. If you were adventurous enough to go for a hike, the snow was too deep to get through without snowshoes. Ready to test our fitness, my hiking buddy and I decided to trek through the backwoods one afternoon.
Once we started our hike, we realised that even with snowshoes, forging through fresh powder was a real workout. After much sweat and burning legs, we found the most efficient way was for me to follow rather than lead. My friend is much bigger (and more physically fit). He wears a size 11 boot, and with snowshoes strapped on, he ends up more like a size 20. Our process involved him packing the trail ahead of me, making it at least 50 per cent easier for me to hike.
So what does this metaphor mean for an SMB choosing a cloud vendor? My advice is to follow the large footprints that enterprises place on cloud service companies. Security is a top concern for major enterprises like Cisco, HP, Intel, IBM and others, and they’ll place any cloud vendor under a tremendous amount of rigour regarding Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and availability.
Let the big enterprises do the work, because they’re not only doing due diligence on any vendor they use, but they’ll be just as vigilant ongoing about those SLAs. Smaller businesses can surmise viability, reliability and more from following those larger snowshoes and the packed snow-trail ahead. The higher levels and quality of service an enterprise demands and pays for? Because of the new economics of cloud computing, most any organisation can take advantage of that same quality and service because it’s available to everyone.