Friday Aug 02, 2013

Is Cloud Security Holding Back Social SaaS?

cloud castleThe true promise of social data co-mingling with enterprise data to influence and inform social marketing (all marketing really) lives in cloud computing. The cloud brings processing power, services, speed and cost savings the likes of which few organizations could ever put into action on their own. So why wouldn’t anyone jump into SaaS (Software as a Service) with both feet? Cloud security.

Being concerned about security is proper and healthy. That just means you’re a responsible operator. Whether it’s protecting your customers’ data or trying to stay off the radar of regulatory agencies, you have plenty of reasons to make sure you’re as protected from hacking, theft and loss as you can possibly be.

But you also have plenty of reasons to not let security concerns freeze you in your tracks, preventing you from innovating, moving the socially-enabled enterprise forward, and keeping up with competitors who may not be as skittish regarding SaaS technology adoption. Over half of organizations are transferring sensitive or confidential data to the cloud, an increase of 10% over last year.

With the roles and responsibilities of CMO’s, CIO’s and other C’s changing, the first thing you should probably determine is who should take point on analyzing cloud software options, providers, and policies.

An oft-quoted Ponemon Institute study found 36% of businesses don’t have a cloud security policy at all. So that’s as good a place to start as any. What applications and data are you comfortable housing in the cloud? Do you have a classification system for data that clearly spells out where data types can go and how they can be used? Who, both internally and at the cloud provider, will function as admins? What are the different levels of admin clearance? Will your security policies and procedures sync up with those of your cloud provider?

The key is verifiable trust. Trust in cloud security is actually going up. 1/3 of organizations polled say it’s the cloud provider who should be responsible for data protection. And when you look specifically at SaaS providers, that expectation goes up to 60%. 57% “strongly agree” or “agree” there’s more confidence in cloud providers’ ability to protect data. In fact, some businesses bypass the “verifiable” part of verifiable trust. Just over half have no idea what their cloud provider does to protect data.

And yet, according to the “Private Cloud Vision vs. Reality” InformationWeek Report, 82% of organizations say security/data privacy are one of the main reasons they’re still holding the public cloud at arm’s length. That’s going to be a tough position to maintain, because just as social is rapidly changing the face of marketing, big data is rapidly changing the face of enterprise IT. Netflix, who’s particularly big on the benefits of the cloud, says, "We're systematically disassembling the corporate IT components." An enterprise can never realize the full power of big data, nor get the full potential value out of it, if it’s unwilling to enable the integrations and dataset connections necessary in the cloud.

Because integration is called for to reduce fragmentation, a standardized platform makes a lot of sense. With multiple components crafted to work together, you’re maximizing scalability, optimization, cost effectiveness, and yes security and identity management benefits. You can see how the incentive is there for cloud companies to develop and add ever-improving security features, making cloud computing an eventual far safer bet than traditional IT.

@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

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