Outlook for Tomorrow is Cloudy But Confused

BeyondTrust, May 17th, 2011

The recent report by the Ponemon Institute on the Security of Cloud Computing Providers offered what appears to be some surprising results. According to the study, “the majority of cloud computing providers do not consider security as one of their most important responsibilities.”

Given that most studies show security as one of the primary barriers to cloud adoption, this is indeed disappointing news and one might conclude that it’s going to be a long time until clouds are appropriate for running enterprise applications. But let’s look a little deeper into the data.

The survey was based on responses from 103 providers, so it’s a pretty diverse group covering SAAS, PAAS and IAAS. Many of these cloud providers may be targeting applications like hosting a blog where security isn’t a top priority. In fact, the survey showed that providers believe most of their customers are looking for reduced cost, faster deployment and improved customer service when they use clouds.

And the study didn’t say that cloud providers don’t think security is important but that “the respondents overwhelmingly believe it is the responsibility of the users of cloud computing to ensure the security of the resources they provider.“ On the other hand “only 35 percent of users believe they are most responsible for ensuring security.”

So to get the level of security needed to run enterprise applications we need to clear up the confusion about who should do what. Let’s explore that in more depth next week.