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August 15, 2011
By Arnaud Gautier

What Can the Cloud do for You? (Part 2) –A More Secure Enterprise

When it comes to the cloud, it’s difficult to ignore the tea leaves: A recent survey from IBM found that nine out of of ten IT professionals expect that cloud computing will overtake on-premise computing as the main way organizations acquire IT over the next five years.

Why? Simple, because more and more companies – from SMBs to large enterprises – are discovering that cloud-provided infrastructure, services, software and apps can save significantly in costs and IT manpower allocation. In the recent book, Hey! You! Get Onto My Cloud, author Mike Lingo has come up with a clever little term to describe what the cloud is doing for businesses these days: Eliminating TCO, or Total Cost of Onerous.

Total Cost of Onerous, Lingo writes, is 80 percent of a typical company’s IT budget that is driven by on-premise IT purchases. (Which amounts to simply “keeping the lights on,” as Lingo describes.) Within cloud-driven organizations, only 35% of a typical IT budget is spent on infrastructure, Lingo reports, and the rest is on new projects and gear. (Total disclosure: Lingo clearly is an unabashed evangelist here, being CTO of Astadia, which deploys cloud solutions among its IT support services for business customers.)

Given all of this, what’s stopping companies from rushing to the cloud? A major hurdle remains: Security, security, security.

Ever since the term “cloud computing” emerged as IT mainstream-speak, reports have surfaced about perceived risks. Gartner, for example, early on cited concerns such as a lack of awareness of where data will be stored; the potential for less restrictive privileged user access; and reduced disaster-recovery capability.

At MegaPath, we understand an initial cautionary approach to cloud adoption. That said, I feel the cloud will actually enhance, not reduce, data, information and network protection for businesses.

Let’s start with security preparedness. I strongly feel that adding firewalls and other security tools to the cloud will only help companies during an attempted attack. Historically, businesses buy firewalls for every corporate location, and manage it there at those properties. If there’s a systems attack with 50 million hits, all of that traffic is hitting the firewalls on-premise. Even if the firewall does its job and denies access, the sheer volume of intrusion attempts will prevent legitimate traffic – customer orders, vendor updates and other critical business communications and transactions – from getting through.

MegaPath can help move customers’ firewall protection to the cloud and off their premises. The security reliability of the service is still the same. The difference? Because it’s no longer on your property, an intrusion attempt won’t impact your traffic. You won’t require additional IT staff to “clean up” the pipes to get your legitimate traffic flowing again, because off-site cloud managers are already doing that. The only traffic you’ll see is that which benefits your bottom line. (And if the idea of moving all firewalls and other security tools off-site is too dramatic a step to consider, we also offer our customers a hybrid version of our Managed Security Service deployment.)

As for disaster recovery – another central concern with moving to the cloud – what good is a disaster plan during a flood if the backup server is in a company basement? Backup systems for end-user data, file servers and other needs can all be sent “out there” to a place not impacted by a fire, ice storm or tornado. The customer doesn’t even know where the physical server is. And you can more easily scale from one server to ten to 100 as your business grows, without ever knowing what any of these servers looks like.

With a cloud application like Hosted Voice, for example, it doesn’t matter if your office is hit by these disasters. Your employees will still be able to place calls and send data because these cloud-based services are not tied into a PBX system on site.

So the next time you and your company’s colleagues are debating the relative merits of a cloud transformation, don’t let the same old arguments about security and disaster recovery steer the conversation off track. In the end, you’ll likely find that the cloud is the best way to keep your business humming along, 24/7, no matter what would-be intruders or acts of nature are out there.

Speak with our specialists today!

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