Cloud computing has evolved during the past few years into a technology that is having and will continue to have a significant impact on the world of IT. As more companies around the world adopt the hosted services model, it will become increasingly important for IT departments to be aware and knowledgeable of the cloud, as it slowly becomes an integral part of mainstream business operations.
A new study by CompTIA has underscored the continued expansion of the market for cloud computing platforms and services, as the number of organizations using the technology grew in 2011 for the third year in a row.
The research also revealed that more than 80 percent of companies use at least one cloud service, while more than 50 percent plan to increase their cloud budgets by the end of 2012. The reasoning behind these investments seem to be in good spirit, as 85 percent of survey respondents said they are more confident in the cloud's ability to deliver high-quality services while simultaneously placing the proper amount of data security over mission-critical assets.
"Internal IT departments also are on the edge of major transformation," CompTIA technology analysis director Seth Robinson said. "The option for cloud solutions for various parts of the computing stack is opening the doors for IT professionals to perform new tasks, or at least perform old tasks in new ways. It's also creating new job roles and functions to more tightly integrate IT teams with lines of business."
Cloud computing is introducing significant changes to IT
One of the cloud's most unique attributes is its ability to help both large and small companies. Since it is primarily based on a subscription model, organizations are only required to pay for what they consume. For small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), this process is much more efficient than flat rate expenses, as it often allows decision-makers to implement the same technologies as enterprises for a fraction of the price.
"Advanced software for analytics, unified communications, enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management and other sophisticated technology solutions were often out of the price range or skill set of many businesses," CompTIA industry analysis director Carolyn April said. "With cloud-based solutions and delivery and either set monthly pricing or a pay-as-you-go model, these technologies come within the financial reach of even the smallest of small businesses."
While these benefits can be appealing to virtually any company looking to remain competitive with rival firms, there are still some challenges that need to be overcome when embracing the cloud. Data protection, privacy and accessibility are all important processes that need to be discussed with the service provider to ensure a company does not unexpectedly encounter any issues.
Another significant hurdle is compliance, which is becoming increasingly challenging as technology evolves.
Compliance requirement evolutions in the presence of cloud computing
A separate study by InformationWeek Reports revealed the state of IT compliance has evolved during the past several years. In the past, meeting compliance regulations was often troublesome and, quite frankly, a nuisance for decision-makers. But today, meeting industry and company standards has become more challenging as the IT landscape became more complex.
The CompTIA study revealed that 35 percent of respondents said their organization needs to comply with more than four compliance programs. Some of the most popular initiatives includes the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, data privacy and breach disclosure laws, Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards.
The procedures regarding data and cybsersecurity are becoming increasingly important during the continued expansion of cloud computing. InformationWeek Reports noted that 77 percent of survey respondents have established a written and implemented policy as to how employees can use the cloud. Approximately 74 percent have designed protocol as to how strong cloud-based passwords for authorization and authentication must be, while another 57 percent have an encryption strategy.
The growing use of cloud computing is also giving rise to the adoption of mobile initiatives. As a result, 54 percent of survey respondents said they company has compliance policies for corporate-owned mobile device usage in the workplace. Another 35 percent of procedures for employee-owned smartphones, tablets and similar mobile gadgets, as the cloud allows more organizations to support BYOD (bring your own device).
"The majority of respondents favor controls that are specifically mandated by widely adopted regulatory requirements – at the expense of techs, like data loss prevention and mobile device management, that make good security sense and are probably on the radar for the larger security team," InformationWeek Reports said.
As cloud computing continues to disrupt the IT landscape, decision-makers need to ensure they meet evolving compliance requirements to guarantee their use of the cloud does not invite any problems that could result in damaged reputations, fines or worse.
Cloud Computing News from SimplySecurity.com by Trend Micro