For the past two years, the hype around cloud has done nothing but grow, with vendor after vendor touting its latest and greatest cloud-based solutions that will help businesses become more agile and efficient. But, as anyone who has followed the tech space knows, hype is always followed by questions.
In the case of cloud, the questions have centered on security – always a challenge with new technology – and migration strategy – how can businesses effectively leverage cloud computing while continuing to leverage their existing infrastructure. Both are typical of any new technology and very logical concerns, given the number of attacks targeting cloud providers, with the average data breach costs businesses somewhere in the neighborhood of $7 million or more.
Since then, there have been some businesses that have started using cloud services for a large part of their business, but by and large, it’s been for new services and applications and, particularly, in test scenarios or for non-critical applications, as the industry sought to find some standardization around cloud that would help address some of the inhibitors to widespread migration.
As I made my way from vendor to vendor at Cloud Expo recently (see check out all of TMC’s (News - Alert) videos from the event here), a strong sense of progress was unmistakable, as the common theme was the businesses are starting to do more with cloud and moving more of their mission-critical applications and sensitive data into cloud environments.
“Companies are moving more of their mission critical and database intensive applications into the cloud,” confirmed Hostway’s (News - Alert) vice president of marketing Aaron Hollobaugh. “It’s really being used to drive the production environments for both large and small businesses and many smaller businesses are looking to migrate everything to the cloud.”
There are still questions around security and compliance, but recognizing it as a major obstacle to growth, vendors have been quick to address concerns, focusing not only on physical network security, but also developing security measures to protect data from application layer breaches. An increase in standardization, both in terms of language and technology has helped increase confidence in cloud services.
“One of the biggest inhibitors is a perceived fear around data security, which may diverge a bit from reality,” notes John Thielens, chief architect of cloud services at Axway. “There are economies of scale around cloud, and a cloud provider using good tool can do a better job of protecting the data on your behalf than you would do yourself. Especially for smaller companies, cloud makes good sense from a security perspective, provided the providers are transparent about the kind of security they are providing.”
The trends are evident though, as business are being pushed to find ways to leverage cloud computing to drive cost and business process efficiencies. The security and compliance requirements don’t change – it’s just a case of having to trust these elements to third parties and, as Dan Rojas, director of strategic development notes, cloud providers have to provide appropriate security measures – they have too much at stake and, perhaps more importantly, if they don’t there are plenty of other providers that will. Security isn’t optional – it’s table stakes at this point.
Because providers are taking security requirements seriously, the cloud movement is gaining real momentum, beyond just the hype we’ve witnessed in the past.
“It’s come past the education point and businesses are starting to understand the prevalent and common definitions of cloud infrastructures,” says Right Scale’s Matthew Small. “They’re coming to the realization that that operational process has just, hands down, won day in terms of what they want to do moving forward.”
That’s not to say there are no security concerns, but cloud providers are clearly listening and are not only developing new and innovative cloud services – from storage to application and content delivery to big data analytics to disaster recovery and more – but they are prioritizing security and building trusted relationships with enterprises that can the focus on their business operations and realize the benefits of cloud computing.
Because the trends are so clear and businesses are looking to do more in the cloud and are looking to migrate more critical business applications into cloud environments, TMC has launched its newest conference event, Cloud4SMB Expo, which will be held in Austin, Texas, October 2-5, collocated with ITEXPO West 2012, along with Cloud Communications Expo.
While ITEXPO (News - Alert) has been focusing on the cloud opportunity for some time now, the Cloud4SMB agenda is dedicated to furthering the conversations we’ve had around cloud computing and how the SMB market, specifically, can move into cloud computing to enhance their operations and increase revenues. If you’re even remotely thinking about how cloud computing can help your business grow, this is a can’t-miss event – and if you’re not thinking about cloud, you should. I hope to see you in Austin.
Want to learn more about cloud computing solutions geared specifically towards small to medium-sized businesses? Then be sure to attend the Cloud4SMB Expo, collocated with ITEXPO West 2012 taking place Oct 2-5, in Austin, TX. Cloud4SMB Expo is the first event of its kind to focus on the unique needs and challenges of SMBs seeking to leverage the benefits of cloud computing solutions. The conference is dedicated to real-world business strategies and implications for growing businesses utilizing the cloud and will provide the knowledge and information SMBs need to compete and succeed. For more information on registering for the Cloud4SMB Expo click here.
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