Are you secure in the cloud?

Posted on 31 May 2011 by The Manufacturer

High profile security breaches are shaking event the largest organisations. TM asks if cloud solutions are fit for purpose for manufacturers.

As Lockheed Martin’s recent cyber attack was splashed across the news this weekend cloud computing suppliers rushed to reassure clients and potential customers.

Lockheed Martin yesterday that it had suffered a significant cyber-attack in the past week and that, despite being confident it had avoided any data being compromised, investigations into poetical impacts were still ongoing. As of this morning many employees at the aerospace company were still being denied access to internal systems.

This is just the latest in a string of high profile security scares. Amazon and Sony are among others that have fallen victim to cyber crimes in the past few weeks and Apple users the world over have recently been shaken by the news that Mac users, traditionally considered safe from many of the viruses infecting internet hosted networks, were being warned against an easily contractible malware, purportedly traced to a Russian source.

The Mac thriving Petri dish of potentially crippling viruses which can infect whole systems and is a very real concern to businesses in an age when operations are reliant on IT. Last year a virus of particular concern to manufacturers infected Siemens’ SIMATIC WinCC and PCS7 software in an effective industrial espionage attack.

Amid all these scares it is unsurprising that many organisations are nervous of entrusting their data to so called cloud applications. Cloud technology offers small and mid-sized organisations the opportunity to leverage the kind of IT capability previously only available through expensive on-premise enterprise solutions such as those provided by SAP.

The capital cost of such capabilities is lowered through hosting data and applications externally, often on the internet. In addition cloud computing can bring added flexibility to companies with dynamic growth plans and so as companies look to accelerate out of the recession, cloud computing is becoming increasingly popular – Gartner predicts that by 2012, 20% of all companies will no longer own their own IT assets.

Many are also quick to assume however, that cloud based applications are also inherently susceptible to malware as well as being less rigorous in ensuring regulatory compliance. Many manufacturers have therefore chosen not to place ‘core data’ in the cloud.

In a strident statement made today however Node4 a specialist in data centre and communications solutions has asserted that cloud based solutions are in fact more secure than on premise data centres.

Node4 provides a happy medium for cloud enthusiasts by supporting off-premise, hosted solutions. These ‘Private Clouds’ are still technically cloud solutions but they offer the peace of mind of a specified data centre for data storage.

Andrew Gilbert, Managing Director of Node4, believes that interests of companies are best served through access to a number of regional data centres, as the average customer will choose a data centre within a 30 kilometre radius of their base. Gilbert says: “Customers still want to touch and see their data centres; it provides them with a greater level of assurance, when their primary and often mission critical assets are in an environment they understand and control, as opposed to being far away, perhaps in a different legal jurisdiction and even time zone.”

Furthermore Gilbert states: “The private cloud has addressed many of the concerns over security associated with cloud in the past. This has caused many enterprises to reconsider their choice not to convert from costly, on premise IT infrastructures. As a result of developments in the cloud we expect there to be a positive impact on the data centre industry.”

The Manufacturer has had increasing levels of contact with cloud computing experts and solution providers in the past year. The range of cloud technologies available on the cloud has become a talking point at TM events and in November this year TM will be publishing a Cloud Computing Supplement to the magazine. For more details on this publication please call 0207 401 6033.