Cloud infrastructure security: A mixed message

Here’s a mixed message for channel partners: IT managers view security as a cloud advantage, but they still have some reservations when it comes to moving data off premises to a cloud infrastructure.

That’s a key takeaway of a recent study from Clutch, a business-to-business market researcher based in Washington, D.C. Part one of the study, published in February, cited security as the primary benefit of cloud infrastructure, based on a survey of 300 IT professionals. The results overturn earlier thinking on cloud computing; security concerns ranked among the top cloud adoption obstacles a decade ago.

Part two of that study, released in March, sheds more light on the cloud security angle. According to Clutch, 64% of enterprises “consider cloud infrastructure a more secure alternative to legacy systems.”

Other market researchers have also noted a general shift in cloud perception.

“The very things that were an obstacle to cloud several years ago are almost a selling factor for cloud today,” said Darren Bibby, program vice president, channels and alliances research at IDC, during a recent Ingram Micro webinar on cloud megatrends.

But customer confidence in cloud is not complete. When Clutch asked what problems IT professionals encountered in cloud infrastructure in the past year, nearly a third of the respondents pointed to security as the top challenge. Security (31%), training (28%) and increased cost (28%) were the three most-reported concerns.

Cloud security misgivings compelled most of the organizations surveyed to invest in supplemental security. Three-quarters of the respondents said they implement “additional security measures beyond what a cloud computing service provider offers,” according to Clutch.

The most frequently implemented security measures include data encryption (60%), identity access policies (52%) and regular audits (48%). And to deploy that extra security, more than half of the respondents said they spend between $10,000 and $500,000.

Those numbers cut two ways for channel partner firms that provide their own cloud infrastructure services or resell third-party offerings. On the one hand, the additional spending suggests partners can likely find security sales opportunities among businesses that have recently deployed cloud services. But for partners selling their own cloud offerings — hosted private cloud services, for instance — the price tag for additional security measures — if deemed necessary — could end up discouraging customers.

So, while partners can take heart that customers view cloud security more favorably, they should also take the time to address their lingering data protection worries.

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