Moving to the Cloud: Key Considerations

Written by Jane Tait, Senior Communications Consultant at Sopra Steria

During the first Digital Leaders NI Salon of 2016 the topic for discussion was Moving to the Cloud: Keeping Data Safe. We had two interesting lead discussants coming at the discussion from opposite angles, with one being a Cloud supplier and the other a customer from the Public Sector.

The discussion started with the benefits of the Cloud and the fact that it is here to stay, it’s a cheaper option, agile and allows for a ‘pay as you go’ type model. However we also discussed some of the concerns around Cloud, with data protection being one key subject and the increasing threat of national security issues.

We then moved on to a lot of the issues facing Public Sector organisations using Cloud, and the fact we know it’s vital that those responsible for Public Sector data make appropriate and safe choices when considering using Cloud computing services. One of the main concerns discussed when looking at Cloud is the Data Protection Act, which was created in the mid-90s when it was a very different world. Because of the age of the act and the amount of change and technical advances that have happened since it was implemented, it’s hard to apply these rules to the Cloud, but it’s still the law and therefore compliance is unnegotiable.

Another point made in relation to the Public Sector was the need for more information, there is currently a fear of the unknown.

“One of the best ways to get over the paranoia around Cloud is to start to get a better understanding of the business outcomes that are achievable with Cloud”.

With the cuts that Public Sector organisations are continually facing the Cloud could be an answer, due to cost savings, the cost of the Cloud is coming down, and the fact that suppliers are offering clients agile contracts with more flexibility rather than locking them in for 10 years.

Security is obviously a big concern with many Public Sector organisations being risk averse and tending to believe the worst case scenario, therefore security in general is seen as an obstacle to progress a lot of the time. It was then mentioned that, although there have been some high profile attacks on companies’ data recently, 95% of security breaches actually involve paper, and people leaving documents where they shouldn’t be left. Although there are many people who are wary of the Cloud, they are probably already using it personally without realising it with services such as Uber, Tesco and Amazon.

The discussion then moved on to how we can help Public Sector organisations get a better understanding of the Cloud, and the opportunities that it can provide. As was suggested, the cloud suppliers need to be more aware of the language, as some of it currently can scare people, rather than reassure them. Organisations should be aware that Cloud can actually be safer to use in many cases, than on premise infrastructure. Real-life working examples need to be recognised, and senior managers should be introduced to the companies, where the Cloud has been implemented in a successful way. Suppliers are here to help and they need to prove they can work with clients to achieve their business objectives. If the solution is the right one, there should be no reason for them to be afraid. Starting small is a great way to showcase this by giving to clients a safe trial run, e.g. using an archiving solution for data that isn’t personal or critical.

In conclusion to the salon one of our lead discussants summed the discussion up perfectly with some well-known song lyrics from Belinda Carlisle and Elvis Presley, “We dream the same thing we want the same thing”, but “we can’t go on with suspicious minds”.

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