Revisiting the Public/Private Debate: 'There's Nowhere to Hide'

After last week’s security breach to the Steam gaming network, the public versus private cloud debate was once again brought to the forefront. Earlier this year debacles like Sony’s data breach and Research In Motion’s (RIM) outage were used as arguments against public cloud offerings. Steam – like Sony’s Playstation Network and RIM – is a public cloud provider. And yes, like Sony and RIM, Steam is getting slammed as a cloud service provider gone wrong.

Don’t Blame the Cloud

Recent data, however, suggests that the issue of cloud security can no longer be pinned against public cloud services – KPMG reported earlier in the month that 30 percent of senior executives worldwide have plans to implement public cloud for their companies. In a recent article for ZDNet, Phil Wainewright made the bold statement that, “every organization is a cloud provider.”

Whether recognized or not, any enterprise that engages in online interactions (e-commerce, inbound marketing, customer self-service) or provides basic business services (remote workers, mobile clients, etc.) is a cloud provider. Wainewright argues that it’s time to stop blaming the public cloud for issues like security breaches and outages because, like it or not, we’re all connected to the cloud — and we have to start taking responsibility for it. According to Wainewright, the distinctions of public and private no longer exist.

Secure Your Cloud

You may not strictly prescribe to Wainewright’s vision of the cloud, but it is clear that more and more organizations are moving data to cloud providers. In the same KPMG survey mentioned above, fewer than ten respondents indicated that they had no future plans of integrating to the cloud. Public or private, Wainewright has a point – if you’re not on the cloud yet, you will be soon. This means that it’s crucially important for your organization to be aware of the potential risks associated with moving to the cloud. Security breaches are a real thing, and can happen to private cloud architectures as well as public. Organizations can secure the data they share on the cloud by incorporating a management layer to their system offerings – it’s important for an IT department to be aware and in control of how employees are using the cloud.