Lean, adaptable and reliable, cloud computing solutions make it possible for enterprises to leverage technology more cost-effectively than ever before.
In fact, a survey conducted by Microsoft and Leger Marketing in late 2011 found that 80 per cent of business leaders felt that cloud computing was of vital importance to their business. However, 60 per cent reported that they didn’t understand enough about the technology to move forward with implementation plans.
Perhaps the most widely held concern is the issue of data sovereignty.
“The first concern of any organization is that their data may be accessed without their authorization.”
But many business leaders misunderstand the risks of maintaining the status quo, says Mr. Weigelt, national technology officer for Microsoft Canada. “Most organizations that do a current risk analysis find that their employees are using mobile devices; they forward their e-mail off to cloud providers, or use Dropbox or DriveSpace in the cloud.”
Employees may back up data in the cloud on mobile devices; customers and service providers may have international operations, meaning that data shared with them may leave Canada.
Business and IT leaders are also often surprised to learn that enterprises do not have to cede control of their data in order to access the benefits of cloud computing, says Mr. Weigelt.
“Private cloud solutions enable organizations to get the most efficiency out of the investment they've made in their servers, by operating more effectively.”
It is common for organizations to run equipment at only 20 per cent capacity much of the time, and to spend up to 70 per cent of total IT costs ensuring that hardware, backups and networks are working correctly, he says. “By moving to the cloud, you’re able to reduce the high costs of operations and equipment by making maximum use of existing assets.”
Many business leaders report confusion about legislation that restricts the way data must be managed. “In British Columbia, for example, legislation obligates the public sector to have explicit consent from the person who owns the data if it is to be stored or processed outside of Canada. I’ve talked to private-sector companies that believe they’re bound by that law, even though they don’t do business with the B.C. government,” reports Mr. Weigelt.
A trilateral committee on cross-border data flows – which included representatives from Industry Canada, the U.S. Department of State and Mexican Foreign Affairs – recently reported that the U.S. Patriot Act and similar Canadian and U.K. legislation are hindering cloud adoption, not because of legal impediments, but because of misunderstandings.
“We encourage organizations to develop a clear understanding of their compliance requirements from a privacy, security and data-sovereignty perspective,” says Mr. Weigelt.