Backup, Cloud, and Security

Talking to IT people, it’s clear that there is tremendous interest in cloud-based backup and storage solutions.  For example, a recent survey by a backup company noted that 52% of respondent’s were considering using cloud-based services for disaster recovery.  The appeal of eliminating capital expenditure and reducing operational expenditure is obvious.  At the same time, there are also some persistent concerns.  The primary concern that almost always manifests itself is security.  Secondary concerns include  include reliability, fees and operational expense, and performance/scalability.  In this post I’m going to focus almost entirely on security as it relates to backup, storage, and the cloud.

I find it fascinating that so many people talk about being concerned about security and the cloud – and yet so many companies keep some of their most important in the cloud today in the form of lead and customer information.  It is within that apparent paradox that I think some real insight can be gleaned.

Quite often, you see political polls that talk about a voter preference for some specific incumbent candidate “running” against an undefined candidate.  An example would be President Obama running against a Republican candidate.  Typically, these polls demonstrate a preference for the undefined candidate.

What often happens is that after that undefined candidate is named there is a tendency, at least initially, for those poll numbers to radically change.  The difference of course is that people have a tendency to project both their hopes and their fears onto an ambiguous undefined candidate – and those hopes and fears greatly influence their voting plans.

When asked about “the cloud”, people tend to project their hopes and fears on that undefined entity.  When talking about Salesforce, the ambiguity is removed – and what is left is the specific implementation.  There is tremendous value in Salesforce – and there is trust in the past record as well as the on-going implementation.  Of course when Salesforce goes down, as it has a few times over the last few weeks, it’s tremendously annoying – but that annoyance is measured both against the value delivered and the longer-term track-record.

While I believe security (and reliability, and cost, and scalability/performance) are all valid concerns, I think that they are conquered via specific implementations.  While there are underlying technologies that will certainly help (for example, Amazon’s Virtual Private Cloud), the bottom line with respect to security is the implementation that lies on top of the broad infrastructure.  And most importantly, the value delivered by that implementation.


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