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Information Unleashed

Avoiding the Hidden Costs of the Cloud

Created: 15 Jan 2013
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Businesses are adopting new technology at an unprecedented pace, and the cloud is one area where we’re making the most progress. And by now it’s clear that the cloud provides significant advantages to businesses, improving agility and reducing costs. But there is a darker side as well that organizations may overlook – hidden costs of cloud implementation that can negate the benefits if not properly contained.

The 2013 Symantec Avoiding the Hidden Costs of Cloud Survey reveals some of these unanticipated challenges businesses face as they look to take advantage of today’s efficient cloud solutions. The businesses surveyed showed that, compared to a year ago, cloud adoption is seeing significant progress. In fact, 90 percent of them are now at least discussing the cloud, an increase from 75 percent a year before. But at the same, cloud computing presents its own set of challenges, and industry experts anticipate that security issues and outages will continue affecting organizations taking advantage of the cloud.

Rogue Clouds

The survey revealed that rogue cloud implementations are more common than we might think. In fact, 77 percent of all businesses have experienced rogue cloud situations, or unauthorized use of cloud services, over the past year. This can put sensitive business information into a position where it could be compromised, without approval from IT or high-level management. Those responsible are doing it in order to save time any money, and yet the results may in fact be the opposite.

The concerns about rogue clouds are well founded. Of those who have experienced rogue clouds in their organization, 40 percent of them have in fact experienced the exposure of confidential information. Other issues include theft of goods or services, account takeover and even defacement of web properties, experienced by more than one-quarter of businesses.

Backup Difficulties and Inefficient Storage in the cloud

Backup has always been a challenge for organizations, and the introduction of the cloud environment has made it more complex. This is having a significant impact on organizations – the majority of them are using at least three different backup solutions. Nearly half of them have lost cloud data, however, and two-thirds have experienced recovery failures. Another hurdle is the perception of cloud recovery as a slow process; only about one-third considers it fast, and the majority estimate that if they experienced a catastrophic data loss it would require three or more days to recover.

The ability to store information in the cloud is one of the most significant advantages the technology offers, because we only pay for what we use. The survey showed, however, that the utilization of the storage businesses are paying for is low – only 17 percent, when it should be over 50. Storage is made even less efficient by the lack of deduplication – about half report that little or none of their data is deduplicated.

Compliance and eDiscovery Difficulties

Meeting compliance requirements is challenging for any business, and the cloud presents an additional level of challenge for this issue. About half of organizations expressed their concern about meeting these requirements, and also being able to prove that compliance. And in fact, nearly one-quarter of them have actually been fined for violations of privacy. There are also eDiscovery concerns, when businesses are required to find the right information quickly. One-third of organizations have received eDiscovery requests for information stored in the cloud, and they have not responded well: two-thirds of those receiving the requests have missed a deadline, leading to costly penalties.

Avoiding the Hidden Costs of the Cloud

With all these challenges, what can businesses do to enjoy the benefits of the cloud without being caught unaware with these hidden costs? The key is preparation. The road to successful cloud implementation doesn’t have to be bumpy, and Symantec has created four key recommendations based on the survey results:

  • Focus policies on information and people, not technologies or platforms
  • Educate, monitor and enforce policies
  • Embrace tools that are platform agnostic
  • Deduplicate data in the cloud

For more information, we invite you to read the complete 2013 Avoiding the Hidden Costs of Cloud Report available at: http://bit.ly/103hEEM