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How do companies balance security, cost, scalability and data access for cloud services?

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Q:

How do companies balance security, cost, scalability and data access for cloud services?

A:

When it comes to cloud procurement, companies have to look carefully at what each individual vendor offers. They have to weigh aspects such as cost with others like the security of data and how easy it can be to expand the system according to growing demand later. They also need to feel comfortable that they still have some amount of control over their data, and don't fear their data sets being “held hostage” by a vendor.

One of the first key points for a company moving into the cloud is choosing either public, private or hybrid cloud solutions. It can be costly for a company to build an entirely separate private cloud system, or more commonly, have one built for them by a vendor. However, conventionally, experts have felt that private cloud offers greater security. Companies can look at trade-offs like these and consider whether some modern public cloud systems do offer adequate security and scalability for their needs.

Client companies can also navigate the vendor environment in other ways. They can look closely at service level agreements provided by vendors, to make sure that they will still have critical control over types of sensitive data. In some cases, splitting up cloud services into a multi-provider menu can offer more versatility.

Along with multi-provider cloud, companies can also assess how each individual type of data workload will be handled in their cloud systems.

This makes abundant sense when trying to balance issues like cost with those around security. By going with one overarching cloud service for all of the company's data, the company is often paying too much for elaborate safeguards for generic data that doesn't need much protection, while also potentially under-investing in data security for specific sensitive data sets, such as client financial identifiers, that need more protection.

So much of the way that companies balance these concerns involves looking specifically at each type of data set and micromanaging how those different data sets will go into a vendor system. Having multiple vendors helps with this type of flexibility – and in some cases, it also helps companies manage and assess costs. For example, if there are multiple vendors involved, if a company is near a threshold for one vendor contract, they can push additional data workloads to another vendor's service instead, avoiding triggering a higher cost for that particular service. This type of advanced analysis really helps companies to make those tough choices about how to deploy cloud services.

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Written by Justin Stoltzfus
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Justin Stoltzfus is a freelance writer for various Web and print publications. His work has appeared in online magazines including Preservation Online, a project of the National Historic Trust, and many other venues.
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