Security still top concern with cloud, despite Amazon outage

For most companies, data security worries will continue to be biggest inhibitor to cloud adoption, analysts say

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Such issues have consistently ranked as the top concerns for companies looking to move to hosted cloud environments.

Don't expect that to change anytime soon, said Jonathan Penn, an analyst at Forrester Research. Last week's Amazon outage is sure to stoke enterprise anxiety about cloud performance and uptime, but security is still going to be the bigger worry for most enterprises, he said.

Companies that are looking to move applications to a hosted cloud environment are going to want even more availability assurances from their vendors now, Penn said.

Ultimately though, enterprises need to realize that there can never be 100% uptime in a cloud environment, just as there can never been continuous availability within an enterprise data center, he said.

Failures of the sort that happened last week will happen again, and it's up to enterprises to ensure that they have measures in place to mitigate any resulting service disruptions, Penn noted.

Over the longer term, the thornier issue for most companies will continue to be data security. Forrester's clients have consistently rated security as their top concern with cloud computing, ahead of other issues such as performance and availability, Penn said.

That is unlikely to change for some time, according to Penn. It is still a bigger "inhibitor of adoption" compared to any other factors, he said.

"I do think this outage may result in more organizations realizing that the cloud isn't perfectly reliable," said Rich Mogull, an analyst at Securosis.

"I've always advised clients that you can't count on the cloud just because it's the cloud," he said. "Any service is prone to outage, and you need to determine your reliability requirements and plan to meet them."

However, it would be a mistake to treat reliability and security as two separate issues, Mogull added. "They are two equally important questions, and whichever is more important will depend on the organization."

Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed . His e-mail address is jvijayan@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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