Can security concerns kill cloud computing?

The IT industry has identified cloud computing as a major trend for the future. But how much of a barrier to its development and adoption will security be?

He explained how the cloud cube model provides a framework for exploring the nature of different cloud formations and understanding the key characteristics, considerations, as well as the benefits and risks that must be taken into account when entering clouds. And he stressed that the path to success is to architect security in from the beginning.

Guy Bunker, chief scientist and distinguished engineer at Symantec, endorsed the forum's work: "Jericho's next phase, which addresses secure collaboration in the cloud, is seen as a big step in the right direction. Bringing together enterprise, system integrators and application vendors has resulted in a practical approach to security in the next generation of collaboration architecture."

Working together

At the same time, other collaborative industry efforts include the creation of the Cloud Storage Technical Work Group (TWG) by the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA), aimed at developing SNIA architectures and best practices related to cloud storage technology. Gene Ruth, Burton Group senior analyst confirmed a number of vendors were rushing to offer cloud storage services, either as a focused storage offering or as part of a compute cloud and therefore, security would be a key consideration.

"Confusion over definitions, positioning and concerns over service delivery are slowing acceptance," commented Ruth. "The Burton Group believes that a strong industry association can provide a focal point to bring the many cloud players together. SNIA's efforts to define what cloud storage is and how it fits into the cloud compute paradigm will help spur its acceptance."

In addition to industry wide activity, individual vendors have also taken steps to improve security in the cloud, with the most recent being Cisco. The networking and software vendor made a number of cloud-related security announcements this month that looked to expand its hosted security service offerings and deepen the integration of security-as-a-service applications with corporate network infrastructures.

And Cisco chief executive, John Chambers hit the headlines at RSA this week by describing the cloud as a "security nightmare".

Cisco has said its new offerings would protect data and communications in support of the increasing extension of connectivity outside the walls of the enterprise walls. From the Cisco Security Intelligence Operations centre, it manages an extensive threat-monitoring network called SensorBase' that it uses to monitor and collect security data from hundreds of millions of client-side device and computers.

"Security needs to capture the latest threat intelligence to mitigate shifting threats," added Tom Gillis, vice president and general manager for Cisco's Security Technology business unit. "Our vision for security is based on a balance of protection and enablement, which integrates security from the network through to the endpoint and the user."

So the industry has begun to answer the security challenges faced in the cloud. But the emerging challenges around data integrity, recovery, privacy and governance, not to mention areas like e-discovery, regulatory compliance, and auditing, demand that cloud adopters must fully qualify the vendors, services and security processes they use to ensure its survival.

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