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Why The Enterprise Was Wrong About Public Cloud

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Enterprise cloud adoption is reaching new heights thanks to maturity of the technology and newfound trust among corporates of cloud infrastructure. A new report by Intel Security, released today (Feb. 13), uncovers some promising trends for cloud technology in the enterprise: Greater trust in the tech overall, especially in public cloud infrastructure, are both apparent in the survey’s results.

But enterprise cloud technology still has a ways to go before it is not only ubiquitous across corporations but operates the way an organization needs it to, said Raj Samani, Intel Security CTO for EMEA.

Samani told PYMNTS that he wasn’t exactly surprised at Intel Security’s findings of the growth of cloud adoption within the enterprise. The report, “Building Trust In A Cloud Sky — The State of Cloud Adoption,” found that many businesses operate with a “Cloud First” strategy, as more than 90 percent of the cloud security professionals surveyed said they had implemented some type of cloud tool within their companies.

There was a massive shift in 2016 of organizations that are taking a hybrid approach to their cloud strategies — that is, using both public and private cloud infrastructure for their needs. While more than half (51 percent) of professionals in 2015 said they use private cloud platforms, that number has dropped by 27 percent in 2016.

“I think the rate at which this has dropped is quite surprising,” Samani said. “There is more trust in cloud and certainly more trust in public cloud.”

The CTO reflected on why organizations are beginning to trust public cloud infrastructures more readily today than they had been in the past. Distrust in the public cloud, he said, was based on misperceptions about the tool.

The difference between public and private cloud, he explained, “is like having your own bank or walking into and using the bank everyone else does.”

“Typically, in the past, public cloud got a bad rap,” he continued. “Everyone said, ‘Don’t use public for anything sensitive. You can’t trust it. It’s safer if it’s your cloud.’ To be honest, I don’t think that argument really stood up to any serious scrutiny, so it’s good to see organizations recognize that now.”

Intel Security’s research suggests that, given time, organizations have learned to trust public cloud. Samani agreed that maturity of the technology is certainly part of why the enterprise has begun to embrace public cloud but did note that it’s not that public clouds have gotten more secure; it’s that cloud technology providers have become more transparent about that security.

“The barrier to cloud adoption has always been that you’ve got no transparency about what’s happening,” the executive explained, adding that, in many instances, cloud customers simply have to take providers at their word when they say they’ll take certain measures to protect the data stored there. “The problem has always been the concept that you’ve got to trust what is said, and that trust has been an issue in some cases because there may be an incident. What’s changed is the industry has become more mature.”

With that maturity comes greater transparency into the security controls cloud infrastructure providers offer their customers, which has generated trust in the technology overall, he said.

There is still a bit of maturing that cloud technology has to endure before it becomes entirely trusted among the enterprise, however. According to Intel Security’s survey, while more and more sensitive corporate data is indeed moving to the public cloud, more than half of survey respondents said they have tracked a malware infection back to a cloud-based application.

The issue of shadow IT is also a challenge for the enterprise, as employees procure cloud data storage services without prior approval from the IT department. Samani explained that part of the issue is that it is simply so easy to procure this type of service that employees can do so with just a few clicks of the mouse. But it also raises the issue of whether the IT department is operating as it should within the enterprise, he said.

“The question is: Are IT seen as an enabler or disabler?” said Samani. “That’s a question they have to ask themselves.”

But the CTO concluded that enterprise adoption of the cloud is steadily gaining steam, and, he said, that’s a “very, very good thing.”

“What the cloud allows you to do is focus on your core business,” he said, adding that cloud-based technologies and Software-as-a-Service support automation of business processes so professionals can focus on more strategic tasks. And especially as organizations approach the cloud with a hybrid strategy of both private and public infrastructure, Intel Security’s data suggests that the market is at what Samani described as a “tipping point” for cloud adoption.

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