IT Services Should your business adopt cloud-based IT services? Usage of the cloud is expanding among all sorts of businesses due to the many benefits it provides. In addition to hearing about the cloud’s advantages, you may have also heard that it can introduce risks if not deployed correctly. This may lead you to question whether using the cloud is right for you.
Introducing any type of new technology comes with risks, but the benefits of the cloud can make the challenges worthwhile. If you take the proper steps and work with the right partners, you can minimize risks and enjoy the benefits cloud-based IT services can provide.
Cloud Migration Benefits
Many of the advantages of cloud computing are due to its flexibility and accessibility, though the benefits of moving to the cloud hardly stop there. Some of the reasons why businesses migrate to the cloud include:
- Low Total Cost: Cost is one of the main reasons why businesses choose cloud-based IT. On-premise systems are often expensive from the get-go, between necessary hardware and implementation costs and continuous management and updating from in-house personnel. That doesn’t even include the costs of hiring personnel to manage the software. Through a SaaS subscription, you get all the functionality of an IT staff and program without the cost.
- Easy Implementation: Implementing software on-premises can take months, if not years, of adjustment and re-adjustment as your company’s priorities and resources shift. SaaS implementations, however, last anywhere from a month to half a year at most. This ease of implementation is primarily due to the reduced coding needed and the simple scaling and configuring capabilities of these programs. Therefore, with SaaS software, your team can start using the software and generating value as quickly as possible.
- Automatic Updates: On-premise software immediately begins to age as soon as you purchase it. Bringing your system up to date with the latest technology is often costly and takes a great deal of time to implement properly. With a cloud-based solution, you automatically get the latest technologies without any hidden upgrade fees and minimal adjustments.
- Scalability and Flexibility: Cloud-based services are an excellent choice for businesses that are experiencing continuous growth or that undergo fluctuations in bandwidth demands. By their nature, these internet-based services scale to your usage with little to no adjustment, giving businesses greater ability to take on greater workloads.
- Security and Recovery: Breaches come from all sources — from lost laptops to leaked passwords. Each incident can cost millions of dollars in lost data, labor and reduced revenue. Cloud systems help by encrypting data and keeping it stored in a secure and centralized location so hardware losses don’t affect your productivity.
- Accessibility: Cloud-based programs are more accessible than hardware-based programs, allowing employees to access data from anywhere so they can continue their work on-the-go. Some programs even have mobile options. The cloud also facilitates greater collaboration between teams, allowing various groups to access and update the same data continuously.
Risks of Adopting Cloud IT
Just as well publicized as the benefits of cloud computing are its risks. On a high level, cloud services come with many of the same risks that traditional on-premise services do. Outside bad actors can find vulnerabilities and take advantage of them. Insiders may abuse their access or unwittingly cause damage. No matter what kind of services you’re using, you need to take certain precautions.
In terms of risks, the primary difference between traditional and cloud-based computing is that the cloud service provider (CSP) and the customer share responsibility for reducing risk. Understanding this division is crucial to proper cloud system management. Companies that use cloud-based IT services must also take steps to protect themselves from cloud-specific risks, such as:
- Reduced Control and Visibility: Hiring a third-party CSP to handle some of your data means you don’t have complete control over all of it anymore. The cloud provider may store some of your data on their servers. You also don’t own a cloud-based software program outright. Instead, you pay a subscription fee for access to it. To navigate this, users need to be sure they understand which responsibilities fall to them and which fall to the service provider. This depends on the cloud service model being used.
- Broader Exposure: CSPs use application programming interfaces (APIs) to manage cloud-based services. These APIs have the same kinds of potential vulnerabilities as those used for other purposes. Those used by CSPs, however, are accessible via the internet. This means they’re exposed to a broader range of threats. If a hacker finds a vulnerability in an API, they could use it to enable attacks. Reliable cybersecurity programs and procedures are necessary for detecting these vulnerabilities and preventing breaches.
- Incomplete Data Deletion: When you control all copies of your data, it is easy to determine where all of the copies of it are. When using cloud storage, the CSP may store your data in various locations. When you delete data, this makes it more difficult to know whether all instances of it have been erased. Deletion procedures differ between cloud providers. Users need to be sure they understand the procedures of the company they’re working with to ensure their information is deleted completely.
- Failed Separations: CSPs typically have multiple clients, so they store data belonging to numerous organizations. This increases the attack surface and the number of potential vulnerabilities. A hacker could theoretically use these vulnerabilities to bypass the separation between a cloud’s users. To date, no attacks based on logical separation failure have been reported, but the concept has been demonstrated. Organizations that handle especially sensitive information sometimes use private clouds that are not shared with any other tenants.
When switching to cloud-based IT services, it’s essential to provide training to employees so that they know how to use the new technology safely. Creating rules about sharing data, updating passwords and using mobile devices can help. It’s also vital to ensure you choose providers that use proper security practices. Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that avoiding the cloud can also be a risk as it may cause you to fall behind competitors and lead to you using outdated equipment.