Feeds

Trust and risk in the cloud

Are cheap megahosters good for your business?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Hosted apps Stick enough kit and multi-tenant software in one huge data centre and there is no arguing with the economies of scale that can be achieved. Megahosters like Google and Microsoft playing this game can deliver web search capability and online consumer services such as email, office and social networking tools at minimal cost per user.

Even that cost is then covered through advertising and the sale of user and usage information to advertisers. As consumers, we get highly functional “free” services that most of us now take for granted. These same megahosters have recently upped the ante on the business services front.

Exploiting the same economies of scale, enterprise class email, office and collaboration solutions are being offered online for less than £35 per user per year, a lot less than it takes even the largest IT department to deliver through traditional means.

Cloud advocates say switching to this software as a service (SaaS) model is therefore a no-brainer. They go on to predict the demise of on-premise solutions such as Microsoft Office, Exchange and Lotus Domino/Notes.

So why aren’t businesses biting the arm off the megahosters to take these services on board? Sure, some prominent names such as The Guardian, Jaguar Land Rover, Motorola and the City of Los Angeles have committed to Google Apps, and these have been heavily promoted in the press. Microsoft’s recently announced Office 365 also appears to have been received with interest.

But we are hardly seeing a massive rush online if feedback from Reg Readers is anything to go by.

A recent study on desktop evolution, for example, found many were planning Microsoft Office upgrades but few were looking at a switch to online alternatives. Inertia and habit are partly responsible for this, as is the frequently heard advice “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

But IT departments have taken a lot of change and disruption on board in other areas, especially when large cost savings are on offer. So why the lack of enthusiasm for the megahosters? The problem here is the perception of risk, fuelled by flurries of media stories highlighting privacy and security concerns. Whether it is subscriber information leaks, thoughtless changes in policy leading to privacy exposures or simply concerns about how our data is being used and abused, the impression created is that megahosters are not to be trusted.

The perception that the providers’ heritage and core activity is consumer focused also casts doubt on whether they really understand the needs of businesses.

Beyond these issues are other considerations, such as the need to know where your data is stored and being assured of data destruction on deletion for compliance reasons. There are then the practicalities of integrating online services with corporate policy management systems, especially for larger organisations. The last thing anyone needs is having to maintain multiple sets of access and security rights, or being forced to run separate set of tools to manage in-house systems and hosted services. This would only aggravate the fragmentation that is already at the root of so many inefficiencies and exposures in IT.

Against this background, we will be looking at the perception and reality of online services over the coming weeks in our latest reader workshop. Along the way we will be looking at how capabilities, practicalities and challenges compare between the megahosters, more niche business service providers and doing things in house. The idea is to come up with an objective analysis with the help of reader input of how to evaluate the options available, particularly from a risk point of view.

So, if you have any thoughts in relation to your own experiences, or simply want to put forward an area for further exploration, let us know in the comment area below. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Google+ goes TITSUP. But WHO knew? How long? Anyone ... Hello ...
Wobbly Gmail, Contacts, Calendar on the other hand ...
Preview redux: Microsoft ships new Windows 10 build with 7,000 changes
Latest bleeding-edge bits borrow Action Center from Windows Phone
Google opens Inbox – email for people too thick to handle email
Print this article out and give it to someone tech-y if you get stuck
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'
Open-source 'love' fairly runneth over at cloud event
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.