At one time, the cloud was touted as an efficient and easy way to store information. Today, we don’t send photos via email or carry documents on USB drives. The cloud is where it is at, a place where we all meet to exchange information. We store everything from personal documents and pictures to business-critical information in the cloud.
Even our private financial documents, and other confidential data now live in the cloud, but how can we sure our information is secure, safe, and inaccessible to people we don’t want to have it?
Simon Campbell-Young, CEO of Phoenix Distribution says we can’t. “Snowden’s revelations last year have raised concerns as to how secure information in the cloud really is, and who is able to access our most personal information.”
He says unfortunately, legislation around data privacy is not keeping up with the speed of technology. “It is a catch up game at best – the Snowden fiasco is an example of how countries deal with legal issues concerning data protection and privacy, particularly in the cloud.”
Cloud security now tops the agenda, he adds. “Customers will be less casual not about only what they store out of their control, but where they actually store it. At the same time, they will still demand security, flexibility and trust. This will undoubtedly give birth to a whole new array of tools and services that protect our most sensitive data when stored off-premise.”
Campbell-Young says there are several trends he sees coming to the fore this year in terms of cloud. Firstly, he believes vendors will release better tools and services to protect information stored in the cloud. “Business-critical data is now stored in the cloud, seeing disaster recovery become an essential part of not just the business, but the cloud strategy. This will give rise to new, innovative solutions to prevent downtime and data loss in the cloud. Organisations will start to make use of new ways to back up information in the cloud, as well as migrate servers to other clouds, fast and effectively.”
More than new tools, Campbell-Young says in the aftermath of Snowden and the NSA, individuals and companies will be far more leery of what information they store in the cloud in the first place. “Over and above companies implementing additional security measures to secure their data stored off-premise, they will also re-evaluate policy on what data can be stored in the cloud, and what data cannot. We will see businesses blocking access to data storing sites that they do not control, such as Dropbox, and will start focusing on the more secure private clouds, and move away from public clouds. In this way, they will take steps to ensure that their most valuable data remains firmly in their control.”
Finally, he says cloud is raising issues and concerns about jurisdictional and regulatory control. “Each country is different, but most have some or other data residency and sovereignty requirements. These might insist that one type of data or another has to be stored where the government can maintain legal jurisdiction over it. More often than not, this means within that particular country’s borders. This will see businesses choosing to go with cloud providers who store data in a geographically close location, within their own country. This will give at least the illusion that the data is protected from snooping by foreign states. It will also be an area where smaller cloud providers can shine, and differentiate themselves, as they are unlikely to have large geographically dispersed data centres, and will be able to devote considerable time and trouble to offering custom, local services that better fit to an individual organisation’s requirements.”
Simon Campbell-Young, CEO of Phoenix Distribution