Will CIOs ever buy the secure cloud argument?

by Sharon Lobo    Jun 02, 2010

Last month a few well known consulting firms held events where the benefits and future of cloud computing were discussed. As these events were attended by IT decision makers, it was not surprising that speakers from the vendor community were aggressively trying to convince CIOs that the cloud is the future and they should get on it before it was too late. However the only concern in the minds of the CIOs present that has been voiced vociferously at these events is the element of security in the cloud. Though the presenters, with their tactful answers, managed to dodge questions on cloud security, the fact still remains that complete buy-in with the CIOs is missing.

To begin with, whenever questions on security on the cloud were raised, the presenters cited examples such as having a bank locker, which had the possibility of a break in, but people still deposited valuables in these, so why should the cloud be any different. At one event, the speaker, from a well-known software company which offers a cloud platform flatly said that companies should put all their services on the cloud from day one itself and still not worry. Even analysts at vendor sponsored events echoed this same opinion.

Apart from analysts and vendors, there were speakers from the CIO community as well, who had adopted the cloud. However these CIOs had adopted the cloud to offer only select services. Here again they gave a disclaimer that cloud does not always ensure cost reduction and neither does it provide 100 percent security. They also said that it was not necessary that they could realize the benefits of the cloud from day one. Realistically, it could take a few years to actually do so.

However at one particular event, an analyst said outright that too much is being promised and the cloud would not be able to deliver it all. Incidentally, this meet was not sponsored by any vendor.

Opinions apart, the question still remains; are CIOs entirely convinced about the security and benefits of the cloud? Though their concerns are valid, it should also be considered that in any IT setup nothing is completely foolproof — security breaches, malware attacks can occur in spite of the security that is in place. Any new technology always meets with resistance for obvious reasons. Nobody wants to be a trailblazer in such a scenario either. An IT decision maker would never risk doing so especially because the early bird usually pays a fatter price and solutions are still maturing.

With the analysts and vendors offering their own views on security in the cloud, it has become a classic case of "if you can’t convince, then confuse". Cloud computing is said to continue to mature. Does this mean the confusion will also live on? What will it take for the IT industry to realize that in order to convince the CIO about security in the cloud, it will need to put all the cards on the table and discuss matters realistically? A buy-in on this cannot be achieved through fancy data-driven presentations.