How Safe Is Cloud Computing? As Safe As Air Travel

SaaS cloud computing

Today it seems that everyone’s talking about computing in “The Cloud.”

The concept is simple: Rather than buy a load of hardware and/or software and have it all sitting in your offices waiting to go wrong, blow up or become obsolete, you work and store your files with an online service that handles all that icky technical stuff for you.

Our own Qarto translation management portal is an example of a cloud-based system – also known as Software As A Service which, of course, inevitably gets abbreviated to “SaaS.”  Other examples are email systems such as Google Mail and Hotmail, online storage services such as Dropbox and MobileMe, or office applications such as SugarCRM or Zoho.

Even Microsoft have jumped on the cloud computing bandwagon, which isn’t such as surprise since cloud-based services generated over $68 billion last year and is forecast to hit around $150 billion by 2014.

However, just lately cloud-based services have been taking a bit of a beating.  Sony’s PlayStation Network got hacked and was offline for the best part of six weeks. On April 21st Amazon’s EC2 cloud-based platform fell over which, since many tech sites use EC2, had the knock-on effect of taking down services such as Reddit, FourSquare and Quora.

Ever since, the press has been full of “I told you so” articles casting doubt over the usefulness of cloud computing, how it’s unsafe and unreliable and not ready to be trusted with our precious data. Which, to me, is a bit like saying that all automobiles are dangerous because your great-grandfather was once run over by a Model T Ford.

Yes, cloud computing-based systems are fallible – in the same way that any computing system is regardless of where it’s based. Cloud computing outages such as Amazon’s, or security snafus such as the Sony story, are the tales that we get to hear about. But what about the thousands of computing failures that occur on a daily basis in companies of all sizes?

In any given year, a lot more people die in car accidents than in aircraft crashes. But it’s the plane crash that makes the headlines. Of course it’s news when Amazon – the world’s biggest provider of web-based services – has one of their data centers go offline. But I’ll bet you that your own company’s systems have fallen down far more often.

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  • Union2063

    I can say my systems have not gone down more often, and I’m no fan of cloud computing, but if every lazy person want s to have someone manage every thing for them for the ease of convenience, then they get what they get. They don’t know about the IT who is doing the back up, they don’t know who accesses their data at any given time.

    I can control my own data, and can personally fight a subpoena if the government wants to look at something on my computer, i don’t have that type of control if Google wants to freely give my or anyone’s personal data to anyone who wants it, and a lot of the cloud based companies have partnerships with other companies and they get around having to inform you who they’re sharing you data and information. Ease and convenience for the lazy, over control freedom and liberty to do whatever you want and when with your data.

    Once it’s on a cloud platform is it really “YOUR” data and information anymore? Really! ?

  • http://www.kexino.com Gee Ranasinha

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    I don’t think that it’s a case of being lazy as much as having a resource to handle the hardware/software/middleware infrastructure.  You’re clearly IT-literate, but many companies don’t have such resources available to them – or just don’t want the headache. For such organizations, cloud-based services offer location-independent accessibility, resiliency, failover, etc. for far less.

    From our perspective, just about every facet of KEXINO’s business infrastructure runs on cloud-based systems (either SaaS or PaaS) and – touch wood – we’ve never had so much as a hiccup in the past four years.  Yes, we use Google services for some of that. Am I concerned that Google is reading my emails?  Not in the slightest.

    Do I know for absolutely certainly who accesses our online data – absolutely. As you rightly point out, all cloud-based services are not created equal. It’s up to the company concerned to ensure that the storage and security of the data meets their needs. Before selecting our tech partners we asked the questions, met the people and got our assurances.

    However I don’t believe that just because (for example) a server is locally-hosted it is necessarily more secure. Poorly set-up networks, routers and/or firewalls are more common that one may think.

  • Ycagen

    Nice article. The recent cloud breaches have certainly jaded some of the public.

    Just do your due diligence when researching vendors. Here are a few tips I hope you find helpful:
    http://info.isutility.com/Portals/95882/media/outsourcing%20tips.pdf

    • http://www.kexino.com Gee Ranasinha

      Thanks for your comment. I agree with you that performing due diligence when researching vendors is paramount prior to signing-up with a cloud-based service, especially in the Enterprise.

      Thanks also for the link to the white paper. Interesting reading!

      Gee

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    • http://www.kexino.com Gee Ranasinha

      Happy that you found it useful. Thanks for leaving a comment, and hope to see you here again soon!

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