Innovative in the RBJ - September 6, 2019

Companies Putting Greater Faith in the Cloud

By Gino Fanelli

Companies Putting Greater Faith in the Cloud

By Gino Fanelli - September 6, 2019

 

For the average middle-market business, moving to cloud computing offers a slew of advantages. It’s intuitive, easily scaled for business growth without the need for expanding a physical server, flexible and, for the most part, more affordable than running a server of one’s own.

As a result, cloud computing is big business. According to research and advisory firm Gartner Inc., the global computing market was worth $182.4 billion in 2018. By 2022, that number is expected to nearly double to $331.2 billion.

“Today, we are seeing that all of these large companies have trusted the public cloud with at least a portion of their infrastructure,” said Jeff Valentine, chief product officer for Village Gate’s CloudCheckr.

In natural tandem with the growth of cloud computing is the need for security aimed specifically at the cloud. There’s no shortage of concern. Take the Equifax breach in 2017, which amounted to 143 million Americans having their private information, including Social Security numbers, stolen. Lack of effective security strikes fear in the hearts of businesses and can slow adoption of new technology.

However, in the case of Equifax, as is the case with most large-scale data breaches, the cloud was not in play at all. Instead, the breach was made through a fault in Equifax’s own onsite system.

In their push to put security at the forefront of the company’s future, Equifax is moving toward total adoption of the public cloud, utilizing Google Cloud.

An onsite server powered by a local IT team might have a hole in it that can be hard to find before a breach actually happens. But cloud providers such as Google, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure are constantly patching and updating their platforms to catch any vulnerabilities. Companies like CloudCheckr or Innovative Solutions can meanwhile manage your data and secure it from any possible holes. So that means instead of a business relying on its own IT folks, some of the largest companies on the planet alongside a local web company are actively protecting the information.

“A couple of years ago, there were a lot of people who didn’t want to put their stuff up in the cloud. There were a lot of concerns about security,” said Jeremy Schiefer, cloud architect at Innovative Solutions. “Now, a lot of those (concerns) are gone,” and companies are able to meet strict compliance requirements. Many security breaches aren’t caused by a hacker plowing through security features with code, but rather by negligence at the targeted company. Examples include phishing scams, employees unwittingly letting their credentials fall into the wrong hands, and plain old bad software that contains holes or bugs that allow bad actors easy access.

Having a third party there to check up on security, set security protocols and patch any holes is invaluable to modern businesses, Valentine said.

“Companies of larger sizes have much more egalitarian access to technology now than ever before,” Valentine said. “The problem occurs when they don’t know how to configure them, or they know how to configure them, but they make a mistake. That’s the biggest problem companies face.”

As a result of cloud’s growth and the acceptance of its security benefits, the cloud security industry has exploded. According to Market Watch, the cloud security industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of about 17 percent between 2018 and 2023, reaching a value of $13 billion.

The cloud is attractive for businesses based on its adaptability, affordability and ability to have extremely intuitive security measures.

“As a business is growing, there’s an expectation that their IT will scale along with it,” said Justine Copie, CEO of Innovative Solutions. “So, it used to be you’d go out to the market, buy a server, and you’d really have to predict how much of that server you were going to consume over a long period of time. … The big shift we’ve seen is that companies have seen an enormous opportunity to buy on demand.”

That plays into a more broad mentality Copie, Schiefer and Valentine all agree on: every company is a tech company. That means for a business to compete in the modern landscape, keeping up to snuff with the apps or digital services their competitors offer is paramount. That goes from the smallest scale, say, a restaurant keeping a constantly updated digital menu, to Bank of America creating a satisfying, safe and easy-to-use app for their clients.

As that evolution into a total tech culture takes greater and greater hold, Copie said the need for more companies focused on cybersecurity and cloud transitions is essential to creating a healthy backbone for businesses locally.

“Whether they believe they’re a tech company or not, every company uses software, every company uses technology in 2019,” Copie said. “That trend is going to continue to propagate, so if you ask a question like are their enough companies like us out there, locally, there’s not enough. There’s not enough companies here (in Rochester) to help businesses leverage technology and move themselves forward.”

 

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