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Easier to secure the cloud than your data center - IBMer

Really?

Application security programs and practises

To summarise, a rant

Risk and responsibility are the big issues here. A corporation hosting its important data retains control over security and the risks it is willing to take. If it screws up, it pays the price for it. In a cloud scenario, this isn’t the case. With most cloud providers, a security breach or provider screw-up will yield a heartfelt apology and a refund of the current month’s fee – and no more.

When we’re talking about important applications and data, the risk imbalance between the customer and cloud provider is massive. If there is a security failure or loss of data, you, the customer, could conceivably be put out of business. The cloud provider? They risk some reputation points and lost revenue – but they probably have plenty of other customers, or at least can get some more.

And you? You’ll be on the street living in a cardboard box and eating out of dumpsters until you finally die of exposure. Or, after being found guilty of criminal mismanagement of data, you’ll be thrown in prison and get shanked during a mess hall riot. Okay, maybe it won’t result in death … but having your business go down the tubes due to a cloud problem would be plenty uncomfortable.

Cloud providers have to put real skin in the game and provide explicit and specific guarantees on security and availability to convince enterprises that this is a valid choice for critical processing. SLAs will have to be negotiated and agreed upon, with penalties and remedies stipulated up-front.

To make this worthwhile, the cloud provider must have at least a minimum usage commitment from the customer that covers the provider’s costs. The cloudy ‘pay only for what you use, as you use it’ model is a non-starter in this context.

To conclude, a truly secure cloud offering isn’t really a cloud at all, in my opinion. It’s really a traditional hosting or outsource agreement. And those have been around for a long, long time. They aren’t trendy, hip, or cool, and in a lot of cases they end up costing more than providing the same functions in-house.

IBM, of course, is a leading provider of outsourcing and is also a cloud provider, so they have more than a little interest in getting enterprise customers to embrace clouds. [end rant]

The last line in the IBM blog asks, “Is Moss right? Or is this a bunch of self-serving IBM marketing spin?”

I weigh in on the side of “Self-serving IBM marketing spin.” But what do you think? Use the comments section below to share your own thoughts or rants. ®

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