Improved governance and training will be core to the future of cloud adoption, helping overcome security and inefficiency problems inherent in many cloud migrations, according to a panel of cloud experts.
At a Westminster eForum event cloud specialists from Microsoft, Oracle and Symantec joined an Ovum analyst, and several lawyers and academics to discuss the next steps for cloud computing.
The participants explored key cloud issues such as security, compliance and the efficiency of cloud computing.
The panel presented a consensus of opinion that would-be cloud adopters need to work out the best way to migrate their IT infrastructure to the cloud and establish a level of governance over data security rather than wholly rely on cloud providers.
Gary Barnett, chief software analyst at Ovum, said effectively adopting a secure and efficient IT infrastructure involves "eating your greens", whereby IT teams must put in the hard work to ensure that cloud migration removes redundant IT infrastructure rather than adding to it.
"Cloud appears in our infrastructure but none of the existing infrastructure disappears. Now when you add cloud to your existing infrastructure, you're not reducing complexity, you're adding to the overall complexity," he explained.
Maurice Martin, director of Cloud and Server Business at Microsoft, supported Barnett's viewpoint, adding that cloud needs to be deployed in a way that has a commercial impact.
"It ain't about IaaS [infrastructure as a service] or PaaS [platform as a service], it's about how do you take all of those capabilities, line it up with what you are trying to achieve, and then get results that work at the board," he explained. "It's about focusing your IT investment on the areas that will make a difference to your business."
David Hudson, EMEA vice president for Oracle, added that "cloud is not a panacea" and customers need to carefully consider how they go about cloud deployment.
He added that not every part of a business might work effectively in a cloud environment. "I need to be sensible, I need to do my due diligence," said Hudson explaining the thought processes of potential cloud adopters.
The panel, in particular Barnett from Ovum, believe that governance over cloud migration needs to also extend to security, as even the most robust technology cannot protect against poor internal security practises.
"When it comes to security you really can make cloud significantly more secure than your existing infrastructure. That is technically possible.
"What you cannot do unless you train them, and beat them regularly, is stop users from creating passwords that are desperately insecure. Nine out of 10 newsworthy cloud breaches are essentially the result of someone obtaining or guessing a password," declared Barnett.
Demystifying the cloud and the delivery of IT as a service, along with further tightening up security on a technical front, were also seen as very important areas to address before cloud becomes the ideal platform for business.
Barnett concluded by declaring that much of the onus of future cloud adoption relies upon businesses putting in the effort to find the best deployment for their needs: "We need to do some of the tedious stuff to achieve cloud nirvana."
While barriers to cloud adoption still exist, some organisations have reaped the rewards from shedding old on-site IT infrastructure. The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead recently shifted its IT into the cloud and looks to net £2m in savings on IT spending.
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