Managing risk when delivering services in the cloud

A growing number of organisations are considering moving their services to the cloud as they realise the benefits it can bring.

But while cloud security is slowly improving, and trust in the service is growing, there are still a number of risks and considerations that should be taken into account.

Here, we look at the potential benefits and pitfalls of delivering services in the cloud:

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Potential benefits 

Reduction of servers: At Connect Assist we are reducing the number of servers we have to support in house from 12 down to two essential servers. This will reduce the risk to the organisation if there is, for example, a power outage, an internet outage or even a natural disaster.

Fewer IT staff: Having fewer IT staff in house reduces the risk to your business continuity from, for example, sickness or sudden departure, employee misconduct and the cost of retraining.

Multiple users: Having multiple users of the system means it is better tested through a significantly higher level of use. Infrastructure is also shared among a greater number of users, reducing the cost to all and increasing functionality.

Security: Delegating security responsibility back to the vendor is attractive for some organisations, bringing peace of mind and reducing risk. More regular updates also means security will be constantly reviewed and improved, and ensures security gaps are closed more quickly.

Cost: Investing in the cloud reduces IT costs. Fewer, larger capital outlays reduce the financial risk to the organisation and spend is spread across the life of the product.

Scalability: The cloud is a scalable solution, both up and down in step with the conditions under which your organisation works. This reduces the risk of not being able to quickly react to customer needs and reduces the long-term financial burden when scaling back operations.

Service delivery: Moving to the cloud shifts the focus from providing systems that allow you to deliver your services to simply delivering your services, ensuring a better service to customers.

Potential Pitfalls

Internet: Moving to the cloud will entail a heavy reliance on the quality and uptime of your internet connection, increasing your business continuity risk and potentially leading to slower loading speeds.

Loss of skill: Some skills might be lost from internal teams if services are moved to the cloud. These skills might no longer be needed on a day-to-day basis but might be needed occasionally.

Increase in cost: There is a potential increase in costs, in the short term if there are long gaps between replacing on-premise systems and in the long term if not entirely replacing your on-premise systems.

Storage can also be expensive, especially if moving from an on-premise data storage solution.

Customisation: A move to the cloud might mean a loss of customisation flexibility and a reduced ability to cater to very specific organisational needs.

Regulation: You will need to understand how the cloud is related to the regulatory environment. Depending on the sector in which you operate, regulatory bodies might perceive the cloud as insecure

Security: Increased security is a benefit, but you are at the mercy of the cloud provider when it comes to answering security questions, for example for audit, writing tenders etc.

You might also need to understand data security principals relating to third parties, which might require additional training or auditing.

Ultimately there can be no abdication of responsibility; you will still have to vet credentials and monitor suppliers.

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