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Author's profile photo Jan Penninkhof

Sleeping better with your data in the cloud?

/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/clouds_133242.jpgA recent tweet by @sapnwcloud, pointed in the direction of a new promo video about the SAP Netweaver Cloud Service offering. The tweet was followed with a “Tell us what you think”. I’m quite a cloud fan, and thought the video perfectly showcased SAPs Netweaver Cloud service offering. On the other hand, I also found that summarizing what’s in the box doesn’t completely cut it. Many IT managers are considering cloud solutions, but quite a lot of them still experience a feeling of discomfort with regards to extending their operations to the cloud.

It is quite a challenge to pinpoint the issues that these IT managers were referring to, let alone how they can be addressed (in a video). Because I think I’m not the only one struggling to answer questions about an “uncomfortable feeling”, I decided to blog about it, of course hoping for excellent community feedback on how to get these IT managers to sleep better at night, while knowing their data is securely stored in the cloud.

When I came to think about the people I have spoken to about cloud and their reservations with regards to moving to the cloud, I believe these are their top-three areas of concern:

  1. The cloud is difficult to grasp
    You could probably argue that they should buy a few good books from Amazon, or perhaps start with Wikipedia. I also believe the lack of understanding about cloud services is caused by the fuzziness and variety in cloud offerings (IAAS/SAAS/PAAS, Public/Private/Hybrid, the way they work, where they are located, SLAs etc), and unclarity about consequences of certain choices in terms of application management, compliance and accountability.
    I think it takes quite a study to be able to ask the right questions and find the key challenges and considerations to select the right cloud model(s). And I don’t believe many people are excellent cloud buyers by nature. Cloud service providers should articulate clearly what their service offering is about, how their solution helps and what its unique selling points are.
  2. Security
    Another topic that always returns is security. Although technical security around cloud services is perhaps even tighter and better set-up than most corporate networks, there are more considerations than just firewalls, encryption and other tech. At a time when even better brands, like LinkedIn, Sony, Apple and Amazon are referred to in hacking reports, recurring topics are:
    • “Because cloud service providers host multiple tenants, they’re obviously a more interesting target for hackers than my own single-tenant datacentre
    • “If my neighbour’s house is on fire, so is mine”

  3. Where is my data?
    …and do I comply with EU data export rules …and is it subject to the patriot act?
    Just to outline the consequences: the Patriot Act allows the FBI to search telephone, e-mail, and financial records of any American legal entity without a court order, and the expanded access of law enforcement agencies to business records, including library and financial records.
    Cloud service providers should be clear on where data of their customers resides and which legal entity is hosting it. Full disclosure on which laws and jurisdiction applies is a must.

Forrester, Gartner and IDC foresee a great future for cloud computing (see slide below), but before these numbers will be able to really materialize in that magnitude, cloud service providers should make sure IT managers sleep better with their data in the cloud.


Suggestions on how to make cloud buyers sleep better are very welcome. Please do not hesitate to comment if you have experiences in this area.

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      Author's profile photo Matthias Steiner
      Matthias Steiner

      Thanks for the well thought-out blog post Jan. Fully agree, those three questions are the frequent ones... as soon as I'm done with my TechEd prep I'll tackle them!

      Author's profile photo Jan Penninkhof
      Jan Penninkhof
      Blog Post Author

      Looking forward to that. I have quite some evangelizing and convincing to do at my side of the spectrum as well and any extra thoughts, arguments or facts will help!

      Author's profile photo Jan Penninkhof
      Jan Penninkhof
      Blog Post Author

      I read an article by Computerwold this morning about the use of Yammer (Microsoft) by the Dutch goverment. It once underlines the importance and controvery about using Cloud services that fall under foreign juridiction. It even states that there are governments that are actively banning the use of U.S.-based cloud products. Norway's ban of Google Apps was given as an example.

      Author's profile photo Kumud Singh
      Kumud Singh

      Hi Jan,

      I remember one of the communications I had, when I had proposed Streamworks to be used for collaboration with the team members seated at different locations. I was said "how is data security guaranteed", rather using a sharepoint was advised. The documents uploaded were considered safer on a sharepoint than on Streamworks. I could not argue much in favor but I think moving to cloud would not be very easy for many.

      However, in case I face another such situation I have a blog as an easy answer 😉 and then we have examples on HANA on AWS etc. as well. Thanks.



      Author's profile photo Jan Penninkhof
      Jan Penninkhof
      Blog Post Author

      Much trust comes from disclosure. If you could have found the right answer to your question "how is your data security guaranteed", the table might have turned...