Over the next several weeks, I want to discuss some core concepts of cloud computing. I designed this series for tech professionals (whether at the staff or senior-level management/executive level) in evaluating the potential benefits of a cloud solution.
We previously covered elasticity and availability of resources. We also talked about the importance of the isolation of cloud resources. In this post, we are going to discuss trusting cloud platforms.
As we have talked about in the past, the security of computer platforms will be an ongoing challenge. Even libraries must contend with platform security, with major tech companies committing more resources to take on the most glaring challenges. Security influences the way people think about technology platforms, and ultimately, how much people trust technology.
Trust directly informs our risk tolerance, which is how much and in what ways are we willing to endure a particular risk. This risk can come as data loss, downtime for a tech platform, and other related issues. IT professionals used to be highly skeptical of cloud services, which informed their approach to cloud platforms. Some of the most sensitive data may be held back from a cloud platform, or non-cloud data backups became more important as more work gets relegated to cloud systems.
Specifically, regarding cloud platforms, there are a few questions that need to be considered when evaluating the extent that platform can be trusted.
How do we ensure data remains secure?
Sensitive data, whether it’s customer information or industry secrets, may need to be stored on local servers or other locations away from cloud platforms. Encryption is another important component of securing data. Cloud services may offer encryption options for data, or consider using your own.
How do we maintain data integrity?
Data integrity concerns the accuracy of data, particularly when it is replicated multiple times. Errors can emerge when data is intentionally or unintentionally altered by people; a transfer protocol fails; or from virus and malware errors. Introducing proper handling protocols by employees, limiting data transfers to stable situations (like using a VPN), and keeping virus protection systems up to date are effective ways to increase data integrity.
How do we integrate cloud into our operations?
I have discussed the general features of cloud computing in the previous parts of this series. The use cases for cloud computing can vary drastically, depending on the industry. But creating virtual machines, increasing the bandwidth of operations during peak use, and expanding the ability for employees to work from locations outside of the office are some of the most common worth consideration.
Trust in cloud platforms is ultimately an extension of trust in other areas of business operations. As many tech professionals can attest, preventative measures, while sometimes annoying to implement, can save businesses from critical data or capacity loss in the future. The tech industry is trying to collaborate on common standards to cloud security, which will be highly beneficial to users. A common standard will ensure different systems are better able to talk with each other and reduce vulnerabilities. But this does not absolve individual businesses of their responsibility to take necessary steps in trusting cloud platforms.
A related question to cloud security concerns the reliability of cloud platforms, which is a subject covered in the last part of this series. Reach out to me on Twitter, @SusanneTedrick.