​Does the risk of Cloud depend on where you are standing?

​Does the risk of Cloud depend on where you are standing?

"There has been an ongoing debate regarding the relative risks when compared to traditional in-house deployments."

Adoption of Cloud services by government agencies across the world is steadily increasing, albeit at a slower rate than in other sectors.

Generally speaking, take-up is often held back by the perceived risks related to security and jurisdiction, but according to analyst firm Ovum, agencies need to look at Cloud services based on specific circumstances rather than adopting a generic approach.

“As the variety of Cloud service offerings has proliferated, there has been an ongoing debate regarding the relative risks when compared to traditional in-house deployments,” Ovum Research Analyst, Al Blake, said.

“This has been particularly prevalent in the public sector, where a traditionally risk-averse approach to significant business change has fostered concerns regarding the security of systems that are no longer directly under the agency’s physical control.”

For Blake, such reluctance has been exacerbated by the “disjunction with legal systems based on unambiguous physical location”, which are becoming “increasingly irrelevant” when considering data that could potentially be stored anywhere in the world.

“Early international concern regarding the theoretical ramifications of the US Patriot Act have been bolstered by the stream of revelations exposed by Edward Snowden and others that confirm just how pervasive nation-state digital surveillance activities have become,” Blake observed.

“In such a climate, the response of many large government organisations has been that ‘going into the Cloud is too risky’.”

However, Blake said such a “black or white response” loses sight of the fact that there are no zero-risk options.

“Smaller and less well-resourced organisations can be at considerable risk through their current in-house IT operations, which are often lacking capacity in security, governance, and business resilience,” Blake explained.

“In fact, for smaller organisations it can be more appropriate to state that “staying out of the Cloud is too risky.””

Going forward, Blake said identifying the right approach depends on understanding an organisation’s profile, as well as “honestly assessing” the existing risks embedded in current operational models.

Australian Cloud

Specific to Australia, uptake of Cloud computing within local organisations continues to grow strongly with Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) attracting the highest spending increase in 2015.

As a result, more than half of all organisations greater than 20 employees are now using public Cloud IaaS for at least some part of IT infrastructure, according to findings from research firm Telsyte.

“The adoption of Cloud computing services is being driven by both traditional IT pressures and emerging technology,” Telsyte Senior Analyst, Rodney Gedda, added.

“Cost reduction, time-to-market, scalability are ongoing traditional IT pressures CIOs face and this is being compounded by emerging workloads like big data analytics, Internet of Things and personal apps in the workplace.”

Going forward, Telsyte forecasts the total market value for public Cloud infrastructure services to reach $775 million by 2019, up from $366 million in 2015.

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