Outages and downtime leads to increased conversation about security in the cloud. But in a recent panel session at ITEXPO (News - Alert) Las Vegas, “Battle in the Clouds,” it was clear that security should not be stealing the show when it comes to discussing the cloud. As moderator and TMC’s (News - Alert) Group Editorial Director Erik Linask said, “If you are not already ensuring security in the cloud, you probably shouldn’t be in the game.”
The subject of Wednesday’s panel was simply trust, and separating the conversation of security from trust. Panelists Gurvinder Ahluwalia from IBM, Skip Chilcott from Microsoft, Mark Monday from Avaya and Dennis Schmidt from ShoreTel (News - Alert) discussed how to ensure trust in the cloud, accountability and responsibility among vendors and customers, and the evolving cloud models – particularly, hybrid solutions.
Your customer’s trust with your cloud services is synonymous with your brand, according to Ahluwalia. The quality of your security practices is a critical part of ensuring trust. But security is just one element of trust – there are different factors to consider in building trust, and in turn, improving the vendor-customer relationship.
“Many people talk about security, but what they really mean is compliance,” Golden said.
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Ensuring compliance is a vital part of building credibility. Schmidt echoes that by saying trust is something that’s built with time. How long have you been providing services? What’s your track record like? Looking to the future, how do you maintain that trust? A big factor is transparency into your networks and processes that offer customers visibility into your processes.
Another way to build trust is to live up to what you offer. As Chilcott explained, customers will realize the benefits described to them. If you can’t continue to build that trust, they will find another solution.
So, how do you make sure you are doing everything you can to deliver what you promise, offer quality security and therefore build trust? Accountability.
In enhancing the importance of transparency, Chilcott advises to look at policies – how do companies stand behind their services? Are they willing to compensate you for downtime? How do their policies reflect their confidence and faith in their own products?
There is a lot of discussion about on-premises systems or moving resources entirely to the cloud, but the name of the game right now is hybrid. Monday explained that everyone is likely using some form of a hybrid model when it comes to UC. It’s common to want to move some features to the cloud but keep some on-premises, and a hybrid model makes sense for many organizations.
A major challenge with hybrid cloud systems is maintaining consistent identity management across different environments, Golden said. It’s important to deliver consistent management so users have the same activities and processes in different environments, and skill sets can be centralized around that.
“Hybrid is going to be the nature of applications for the foreseeable future,” he said.
Chilcott agrees. “Hybrid is everywhere. Between providing choice and flexibility, there are a lot of different models you can deploy in a hybrid fashion.”
A consistent piece of advice I’ve heard at ITEXPO is to figure out what you are trying to achieve before you jump onto the latest technology bandwagon. Just because cloud works for one company doesn’t mean it will work for yours. It’s about choosing what’s best for your organization, responsibilities, customers and resources, and figuring that out is an essential step in becoming trustworthy.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson