With more businesses understanding the benefits of moving to the cloud, the discussion is evolving from why to how. Evidence is mounting that even large enterprises, the most conservative of IT users and the biggest owners of IT infrastructure are transitioning to a public, private or hybrid cloud infrastructure.
The journey to the cloud brings many benefits, but migrating from owned infrastructure to a private, public or hybrid cloud is complex. Security has long been a major factor when businesses consider moving their services into a cloud computing environment. When cloud computing was just taking off, many feared that it would put their corporate data at risk of loss or theft and concerns are still present in the industries wrapped in compliance legislation. That said, there is an increased understanding of the benefits the cloud can bring to an organisation and businesses are also beginning to realise that cloud solutions can actually be more secure than most legacy options.
However, as organisations begin to make their journey to the cloud and rely on it more for a wide range of mission-critical applications, they are inevitably entrusting a large amount of sensitive information to these environments. For businesses in sectors such as healthcare, finance, retail, payments and government services, this means compliance is a key factor to consider - one which organisations cannot afford to overlook.
A compliant route to the cloud
When migrating to the cloud, it is imperative that companies within these industries are compliant with the various rules and regulations dictated by industry standards. This can seem overwhelming and has been a barrier to cloud adoption in the past, but there are simple steps you can take to ensure you meet legal requirements.
Among the most important of compliance standards is the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). This is a set of technical requirements, established by the PCI Security Standards Council, that is designed to ensure that consumer credit card information remains safe and secure. Any company that stores, processes or transmits cardholder data is obligated to meet these stipulations. As firms transfer more operations into the cloud, these compliance regulations must be taken into account at all times.
This can be a challenging proposition for many organisations. Companies need to be completely aware of where this data resides at all times, encrypt the data whenever it is moved and maintain robust firewalls to provide constant protection. For an organisation that is just dipping its toes into the cloud, the odds of an error occurring are sizeable.
A similar rule covers the handling of individuals’ healthcare data in the US. It is called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA for short), a piece of legislation that is vital in US healthcare and well recognised by the NHS in the UK. In US finance, the relevant legislation around data compliance is part of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX for short).
Tips for ensuring compliance
No matter what sort of compliance you wish or need to adhere to, it is very important to monitor the compliance standards landscape on a regular basis. By doing so, companies can ensure that they are up-to-date with the latest compliance standards, which regularly change over the years to become more comprehensive and secure.
It is additionally vital that businesses look to have a solid service level agreement from their managed service provider. Companies should not be afraid to negotiate with their providers in order to get a level of compliance that they are completely happy with. The best managed service providers will provide you with a bespoke solution to match your needs and make sure that you are comfortable and ready to make the transition to the cloud.
The journey to the cloud is transformative
Businesses are discovering the transformative power of the cloud. Migrating to the cloud means companies can consolidate infrastructure and move to an operating expense (OpEx) model for their IT. They can offer better solutions to their customers and elastically scale both their business and their offerings. By ensuring compliance is maintained during the transition to the cloud, companies can worry about one less thing in the overall process, which will contribute to an easy and successful transition. Among the other benefits of moving to the cloud, it will also allow companies to provide compliant solutions to their own clients, which will enhance their offering.
Transitioning to the cloud does not have to be as difficult as many businesses may think and, with large enterprises leading the way, it will only be a matter of time before the majority of companies are making the most of the benefits that the cloud can provide.