Data Dilemma: Cloud or On-Premise Storage?

By Tony Kontzer Print this article Print
Cloud or On-Premise Storage

Even though data residing in the cloud can be as secure as data stored in on-premise systems, IT leaders must constantly assuage security and compliance fears.

Calming Security and Compliance Fears

David Linthicum, senior vice president of the Cloud Technology Partners consultancy, has been preaching a similar message: He tells his clients that if they're going to fret over perceived cloud storage security issues, they might as well kiss the business value and efficiencies of the cloud goodbye.

Yet, even though data residing in the cloud can be as secure as—or even more secure than—the data in on-premise systems, IT leaders must constantly assuage security and compliance fears. "It's less of an issue than it was two years ago—and a lot less of an issue than five years ago—but it's still something they need to explain on a daily basis," Linthicum points out.

That's precisely the reality Ken Ellis faces. Ellis, chief technology officer of Reuters News Agency, says that while the level of concern has certainly dropped in recent years, security and compliance fears continue to dominate discussions about migrating critical data. That said, Reuters, which is a division of media and information conglomerate Thomson Reuters, has had little choice but to put much of the content it sells in the cloud so that it's easier for customers to access.

Even though that data is accompanied by a few security concerns, Ellis says Reuters has a strategy in place to contend with the possibility of someone gaining access to those systems and deleting all the content, a development he says would be "catastrophic."

Ellis also says that each piece of content is analyzed before being stored in the cloud to ensure that any unique risks or disruptions related to data loss have been mitigated. He says that this consideration is why he still looks at the cloud as a double-edged sword.

"It's easy to set up, but also easy to tear down," Ellis points out. "It's one of the risks you have to understand."

Such risks are countered by the numerous benefits of having content in the cloud. Ellis says cloud providers' data centers often offer additional services, such as video transcoding, workflow engines, load balancing and access to content distribution networks, which he considers a big advantage. "It's not just about [finding] the cheapest and fastest place to store the data," he says.

Not even those additional services have been enough to convince Reuters to put more critical data, such as customer account information, in the cloud. That day will come, however, probably sooner rather than later.

"Certain stuff is too sensitive," Ellis acknowledges. "But that line of what you're willing to put in the cloud—and what you're willing to put only in your own data center—is shifting, and it will continue to shift."

This article was originally published on 2016-09-22

Tony Kontzer has been writing about the intersection of technology and business for more than 20 years, and he's been a regular contributor to Baseline since 2007.

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