Organisations are widely migrating to the cloud to gain competitive advantages around speed, agility and flexibility according to Symantec Corporation’s recent "Avoiding the Hidden Costs of Cloud 2013 Survey."
In fact, more than 96 percent of all organisations are at least discussing cloud, up from 75 percent a year ago.
Other key survey findings showed enterprises and SMBs are experiencing escalating costs tied to rogue cloud use, complex backup and recovery, and inefficient cloud storage.
Rogue clouds are defined as business groups implementing public cloud applications that are not managed by or integrated into the company’s IT infrastructure.
Industry experts predict several key issues will arise in 2013 focused on the financial pressures and security challenges of cloud computing. Business continuity is seen as an important issue with the increase in cloud outages posing greater risks than security breaches.
Over the holidays, a leading cloud service provider experienced an outage, which they quickly remediated. This outage impacted businesses and posed important concerns around data loss prevention, backup, time spent on data recovery and the associated costs. However, with advance preparation, organizations can build safe, agile and efficient clouds that will enable them to meet their business goals.
“By taking control of cloud deployments, companies can seize advantage of the flexibility and cost savings associated with the cloud, while minimizing the data control and security risks linked with rogue cloud use,” said Michael Chue, Managing Director, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Greater China Region Global Business, Symantec.
Rogue Cloud Implementations
According to the survey, rogue cloud deployments are one of the cost pitfalls. It is a surprisingly common problem, found in 89 percent of businesses within the last year. It also seems to be an issue experienced more by enterprises (83 percent), due to their larger company size, than SMBs (70 percent).
Among organizations who reported rogue cloud issues, 40 percent experienced the exposure of confidential information, and more than a quarter faced account takeover issues, defacement of Web properties, or stolen goods or services. The most commonly cited reasons for undertaking rogue cloud projects were to save time and money.
Cloud Backup and Recovery Issues
Cloud is complicating backup and recovery. First, most organizations use three or more solutions to back-up their physical, virtual and cloud data—leading to increased IT inefficiencies, risk and training costs. Furthermore, 51 percent of organizations have lost cloud data and had to recover from backups (47 percent of enterprises and 36 percent of SMBs), and most (79 percent) have experienced recovery failures.
Finally, most see cloud recovery as a slow, tedious process. Only 25 percent rate this is as fast and 22 percent estimate it would take three or more days to recover from a catastrophic loss of data in the cloud.
Inefficient Cloud Storage
One of the key advantages to cloud storage is how simple it is to provision. Sometimes this simplicity leads to inefficient cloud storage. Generally, organizations strive to maintain a storage utilization rate above 50 percent.
According to the survey, cloud storage utilization is surprisingly low at 17 percent. There is a tremendous difference in this area between enterprises (which are utilizing 26 percent of their storage) and SMBs (which is a shockingly low seven percent). Furthermore, roughly half admit very little, if any, of their cloud data is deduplicated, further compounding the problem.
Compliance and eDiscovery Concerns
According to the survey, 42 percent of organisations are concerned about meeting compliance requirements in the cloud, and a slightly larger number (53 percent) are concerned about being able to prove they have met cloud compliance requirements. This concern about information in the cloud is well founded, as 34 percent of organizations have been fined for cloud privacy violations.
eDiscovery is creating additional pressure on businesses to quickly find the right information. Almost half (48 percent) of businesses reported receiving eDiscovery requests for cloud data in the past 12 months. Of those, two-thirds have missed their cloud discovery deadlines, leading to fines and legal risks.
Data in Transit Issues
Organisations have all sorts of assets in the cloud – such as web properties, online businesses or web applications – that require SSL certificates to protect the data in transit whether it is personal or financial information, business transactions and other online interactions.
The survey showed companies found managing many SSL certificates to be highly complex: Just 16 percent rate cloud SSL certificate management as easy and only 26 percent are certain their cloud-partner’s certificates are in compliance with corporate standards.
Hidden Costs Are Easily Avoided
The survey shows ignoring these hidden costs will have a serious impact on business. However, these issues are easily mitigated with careful planning, implementation and management:
- Focus policies on information and people, not technologies or platforms
- Educate, monitor and enforce policies
- Embrace tools that are platform agnostic
- Deduplicate data in the cloud