Thinking About Cloud Apps?

by Willy Leichter
Director, Product and Solutions Marketing

I see plenty of forces driving companies to the cloud. People want to reduce costs, consolidate infrastructure, and stop hosting their own software, and they want to use any number of the countless productivity apps becoming available every day: HR apps, finance apps, and, of course, social media apps.

Clearly, the cloud is an inevitability, and what a statement that is when just a few years ago IT debated fiercely over whether it was wise to allow Facebook, whether allowing it was a threat to security or not allowing it was a threat to user satisfaction. Needless to say, that worked itself out: nearly all businesses allow it, and most integrate it into their business model somehow.

But if you move into cloud purely to save money, I don’t think you’ll necessarily be that successful. There are some cost savings available, but it’s really about simplifying your infrastructure and simplifying your management of applications. If you think just by shifting into the cloud your costs will go down dramatically—that’s still unproven.

What is proven, however, is that most Web apps have minimal security features. Sure, there’s usually some minimal virus scanning, but there’s barely any kind of content control. Sites like Facebook and Linkedin fly under the radar due to the fact that the users demand it, that not having it creates its own problem.

Even if you’re using legitimate business-related web apps (i.e., HR apps, finance apps, etc.), you’re basically not connected to the identity and authorization system of the company, and your well-established rules about where you can go within the company, what servers you can access, etc., become moot. You will end up with many, many IDs and passwords for different applications. And that can be a real security problem when people leave—when they change roles or leave the company, you still have dozens of accounts with different passwords that all need to be cleaned up. This issue had been addressed in the past via general identity access control. But today, increasingly, companies are getting into problems where they’re saying, “It’s just not my job to be worried about apps in the cloud,” because they have no direct bearing on internal business systems.

What do you think? Is it your job to be worried about apps in the cloud?

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