What does the future hold for cloud computing?

Positive reports of increasing levels of cloud adoption in the UK were plentiful in the technology media in the first half of 2014. The majority of coverage indicates that growing numbers of businesses are embracing the technology’s many benefits – such as cost and time savings – and this mirrors our own intelligence.

However, amongst the positivity remain concerns about security, with discussions surrounding the storage of, and access to, sensitive data remaining ever-present. While education remains an issue that needs to be addressed, one must consider the current landscape and cloud computing’s future prospects.

Cloud storage – is it worth the risk?
As I explored last month, cloud providers are keen to impress that the data businesses store in the cloud is secure. However, from a corporate standpoint, it’s currently too early to put a definitive number on just how big the risks are for firms from a data storage perspective.

That being said, multiple studies point to the fact that even detecting security breaches in existing infrastructure is a pretty tall order for in-house security teams at non-IT-related companies. Against that backdrop, we doubt that the numbers are any worse for infrastructure that is out of the direct physical and legal control of the organisation.

Concerns are elevated further when the results of a recent survey are factored in, which indicated that 45 per cent of firms surveyed do not use a cloud solution due to a perceived lack of data control and security concerns. This is a big issue that needs to be combated, and existing European legislation goes a good way towards ensuring that at least some kinds of sensitive data – such as patients’ medical histories – do not leave the EU.

How long will the cloud security debate continue?
The debate surrounding cloud computing and data security shows no signs of lessening and we believe that the issues will not be definitively hammered out for as long as it will be possible to rent storage and computing power. In computing terms, that’s basically forever.

As cloud computing becomes more prevalent, we anticipate that customers and businesses will gain an education in the attendant security problems. The idea of data portability between cloud providers is very important and welcome, but it’s not yet clear how the privacy issues will be solved.

The introduction of global private clouds, such as the recently announced Respect Network, are bound to have an impact on the continued growth of cloud technology – provided of course that they are as reliable, cost-effective and accessible as they have promised to be.

Most of this, of course, is in the future, as the public key infrastructure that we are using today is clearly not mature enough to securely support even the services we do use on a daily basis, let alone such sophisticated new offerings. The SSL Heartbleed bug, the recent issues with certificates made in India and many other recent incidents all serve to demonstrate this.

Cloud computing’s widespread adoption by businesses and consumers alike all but guarantees that, in five to ten years’ time, the technology will still be very much with us. The concept of data ownership still unquestionably needs clarifying – legally, socially and technologically – however we believe that there will be a number of positive changes in this respect in the years ahead. As an organisation, we shall be making strides to make further progress in these areas ourselves.

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