Cyber Security

Unlocking the Business Value of the Cloud

By Marc Woodhead, founder and CEO of cutting-edge software development business, Holograph

A combination of cost, security and speed create an interesting debate around the cloud. Over the last decade cloud computing has evolved rapidly and now millions of customers are using the cloud without even knowing it.

The Appeal

Traditional hardware and software requires significant investment, factoring in the licensing fees for multiple users can quickly become very expensive. So migrating the bulk of your operation into the cloud becomes extremely appealing in terms of easy access to nearly unlimited computing power, often at an attractive cost.

Working with traditional IT hardware and software there is a constant worry about storage and how to manage the amount of data. With the cloud there is basically unlimited storage, if your business is growing all you need to do is increase the pay to your cloud operator which will then accommodate your growth.

This scalable pay can also work the other way, if your business goes through a lean period you can cut costs by paying for less storage.

Also, by moving your data into the cloud, this means offloading the need to do maintenance on the hardware that your data is stored on. The cloud computing company you go with will take responsibility for making sure the hardware you use is running as it should. By doing this, business owners can potentially reduce the need for as many staff members with specific skill sets.

For any company with employees who regularly travel with work, switching to the cloud is vital, as it provides easy access to their company’s database. Wherever there is internet the employees can work as if they were at the office, this increase in efficiency can be vital for the progression of a company.

The final important positive about cloud computing is its reliability, most cloud providers offer a Service Level Agreement, guaranteeing 24/7/365 support. This is much more reliable than in-house IT infrastructure, when your IT expert is away the problem may not be resolved until their return, which is a massively inefficient system.

Security Grey Areas

The importance of cyber security in 2019 cannot be overestimated, countless recent high-profile hacks have highlighted the security faults of cloud computing and questions still linger. The very nature of cloud computing means that it is more vulnerable than in-house services, nothing on the internet is completely secure and customer must be aware of this before switching.

Many will feel uncomfortable in handing over all of their company’s most sensitive information to a third-party cloud service provider. This is why it is important to choose the best and most reliable cloud provider. Just one security breach can have a huge effect on customers’ trust.

Another reason it is important to choose a reliable company is because of the difficulty in switching between cloud provider. Getting this decision right first time is important as it can be difficult to migrate services from one cloud provider to another, applications developed on one network may not work on another platform. 

If control is what your business wants and enjoys, then the limited autonomy over cloud computing could become frustrating. The cloud infrastructure will be entirely owned, managed and monitored by the providers, transferring minimal control to customers.

Another factor that needs to be considered before moving your data to the cloud is 2018’s EU General Data Protection Regulation law. In effect it’s a joint responsibility between your provider and you to ensure data is used, stored and managed appropriately.

One of these challenges is properly securing the data you’re collecting. The point of this is to protect confidential information that users are handing over. Security by design is a must in our digital world. Fundamentally, when you make the move towards cloud computing, you’re sacrificing a certain level of privacy and security. This is due to the cloud computing company that you choose not taking appropriate precautions when storing your data or having inappropriate access control measures.

In terms of storage of your data in the cloud, it would be a wise idea to incorporate encryption into the design of your cloud-based system, to secure data if a breach were to occur. By doing this, you’re reducing the exposure of your actual data for a worst-case scenario.

Another concern to cloud computing, is that you’re spreading out where your data is, and by doing so, you’re creating another place where you will need to remove data if it’s requested. You may also have to worry about the backups of your data so you can ensure they don’t contain traces of the data you’re trying to remove.

Regarding backups, when moving your data into the cloud, you’re relying on the company you go with to keep the hardware in a functioning state, and to monitor the state of it. By having this hardware internal, you can easily access the hardware, if it were to fail.

The Future

As with everything in life, cloud computing has benefits and drawbacks. Its growth in the past decade has transformed the security landscape, and shows that despite the negatives, cloud computing is the future and it is easy to see why. Decreased cost and increased efficiency are the central reasons, businesses can make more money and produce a better product by adopting the cloud. While they may still be uncomfortable giving away such sensitive information, the opportunities of the cloud make up for this.  

About the author

Marc Woodhead is founder and CEO of cutting-edge software development business Holograph. With 25 years’ experience in graphic design, computer system design, human-computer interaction and psychology, he is recognised as one of the UK’s most inventive creatives.