Securing the cloud

Alex Kayle
By Alex Kayle, Senior portals journalist
Johannesburg, 21 May 2009

Dr James Blake, chief product strategist for Mimecast, will dispel myths around software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud risk management during next week's ITWeb Security Summit, being held at Vodaworld in Midrand.

According to Blake, in these tough economic times, businesses need to focus on their core business functions, not the management of infrastructure.

Blake says: “There is a lot of talk these days about clouds being less secure than keeping your data on-premise - that you will lose control once you store it off premise or that cloud providers will lock you into their service by making it difficult to get your data back.”

Working in the cloud

Blake stresses that not all cloud services are alike and there are both risks and benefits when using cloud computing. ”In many areas of business, IT components need to be integrated by external third parties or internal IT departments and need to be renewed every three to five years.

“A good SaaS vendor will provide not only a platform and processing capability, but also expertise and innovation specific to the problem at hand.”

Blake says the right cloud service will help an organisation constantly evolve and adapt to new threats while allowing the company to focus on business problems and not the underlying technology. He claims this can free up internal resources such as time, money and people.

Data security

According to Blake, some of the challenges experienced by companies in a cloud environment include privacy control, jurisdiction of data, ensuring that data is not tampered with, maintaining availability of the service, and ensuring the evidential quality of the data.

Blake notes: “One of the biggest trends I've seen is the branding of everything as a 'cloud' - from internal IT systems that are now being branded 'internal clouds' to managed service providers who host on-premise applications and appliances over the Internet.

“The cloud is a hot topic at the moment and as one of SA's first cloud service providers we look forward to having the opportunity to correct some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding the cloud.”

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