Institutions are moving quickly to the cloud. Often CIOs justify the move based on gains for enterprise applications in the areas of speed, agility and flexibility in spite of their concerns about redundancy and security. A recent report indicates there are still other potholes on the road to the cloud for the enterprise. This 2013 report “Avoiding the Hidden Costs of Cloud” is based on a Fall 2012 survey commissioned by Symantec of 3236 business and IT executives in 29 countries It provides insight to the types of issues IT departments will encounter in the push to the cloud.
The issues summarized from the report are indeed challenges. However, for a survey report with a title that includes the term “Hidden Costs” there is precious little financial detail as to what these costs are: are we talking one dollar or a million dollars? Lack of financial details aside, the survey results provide important issues which are not always discussed when an institution is developing an overall cloud strategy.
Hidden Issues in Cloud Deployment
This Rogue Cloud challenge is an offshoot of a challenge some refer to as “Shadow IT” he deIn the past several years you began seeing impatient department managers securing extra budget money and hiring outsiders to build a database for various tasks. These tasks range from managing mailing addresses to retrieve feedback from a targeted population. After accomplishing desired goals with this activity the department head would work the cost into their operating budget. Other managers would take notice and start building their own databases. Then along came the cloud, and IT’s perceived lack of timely delivery of a desired service was amplified. Managers also encountered consumer based products which were easier to access and which heightened frustration with the traditional delivery of IT service. This issue,sometimes referred to as the “Consumerization of IT” allows department managers to seek outside vendors to automate various business processes, from customer relationship management to classroom evaluation services. Many of these consumer-based services can also be defined as a rogue cloud services as identified by the survey.
The survey revealed 77 percent of all businesses have experienced rogue cloud situations, or unauthorized use of cloud services, over the past year. This can put sensitive business information into a position where it could be compromised, without approval from IT or high-level management. Those responsible are doing it in order to save time and money, and yet the results may in fact be the opposite.
The concerns about rogue clouds should be considered. Forty (40) percent of organizations surveyed have in fact experienced the exposure of confidential information. Other issues include theft of goods or services, account takeover and even defacement of web properties, experienced by more than one-quarter of businesses.
Backup Difficulties and Inefficient Storage in the cloud
Backup is a challenge for organizations. A majority of organizations surveyed are using at least three different backup solutions. Nearly half have lost cloud data and two-thirds have experienced recovery failures. Another hurdle is the perception of cloud recovery as a slow process; only about one-third considers it fast, and the majority estimate that if they experienced a catastrophic data loss it would require three or more days to recover.
The ability to store information in the cloud is one of the most significant advantages the technology offers, because we only pay for what we use. The survey showed, however, that the utilization of the storage businesses are paying for is low – only 17 percent, when it should be over 50. Storage is made even less efficient by the lack of deduplication – about half report that little or none of their data is deduplicated.
Compliance and eDiscovery Difficulties
Half of organizations expressed their concern about meeting compliance requirements and proving compliance. Twenty-three percent of respondents have been fined for violations of privacy. There are also eDiscovery concerns when businesses are required to find the right information quickly. One-third of organizations have received eDiscovery requests for information stored in the cloud, and they have not responded well. Two-thirds of those receiving the requests have missed a deadline, leading to costly penalties.
A list of recommendations provided by the report include:
- Focus policies on information and people
- Educate, monitor and enforce policies
- Embrace tools that are platform agnostic
- Deduplicate data in the cloud
Below, I have included a MindMap I put together several years ago to help clarify how the cloud impacts use. Amazingly it is still relevant.