How to Assess Risk When Considering Cloud Computing

How to make decisions about moving your organization's IT solutions to the cloud while considering the risks involved.

By Piyush Pant, Vice President of Strategic Markets, MetricStream
Mon, October 21, 2013

Network WorldThis vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter's approach.

Cloud computing has transformed the way IT resources are utilized, but the externalization of infrastructures and applications has brought with it the perception of increased risk, which seem to swirl around visibility and control.

This perception of increased risk has prevented the adoption of cloud solutions in a number of industries, so the key question is how to make decisions about moving your organization's IT solutions to the cloud while considering the risks involved. A

Let's review the key advantages of cloud computing:

* Economies of Scale: Traditional IT and IT outsourcing runs on infrastructure that is costly to create and maintain. In contrast, the cornerstone of cloud is cost efficiency, as the cloud does not require a capital investment to set up the infrastructure, or an in-house team of IT experts. Moreover, an organization pays only for the storage capacity it consumes, meaning enterprises can readily scale up and down processing and storage needs without spending a lot on overhead. Organizations end up saving time and critical resources, and can transform IT into a strategic team that focuses on more innovative initiatives.

* Agility: Most CIOs actually adopt cloud solutions because they can be up and running quickly, not because they are cheaper. A faster realization of business benefits, while reducing costs around internal IT project management, procurement, integration and change management are also key drivers. Organizations also don't have to worry about the ongoing operations, updates and fixes, as these are handled by cloud vendors.

* Flexibility: Cloud paves the way for innovation in several areas, and quickly adapts to business changes. For instance, online retailers can leverage cloud services to effectively implement web-based, point-of-sale and online purchasing applications. Organizations can give their employees and key stakeholders access to corporate resources on the cloud which can drive improved productivity, irrespective of where employees are located or what devices they use. Cloud also supports big data, as many organizations migrate more and more of their business applications to the cloud.

Understanding the Risk Factors

The biggest fear for IT managers is the thought of losing control "The infrastructure is no longer within my control and someone else is responsible for it. What happens if they fail?" A Risks can be viewed through an infrastructure, software capability and data perspective.

* Data Security: Ambiguity surrounding certainty and visibility into security elements used by cloud providers is a big cause of worry. With business data residing offsite, as well as increased travel, the risks of possible data theft and hacking are evident.

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