During live polling sessions conducted by FutureGov at the recent FutureGov Summit 2012 in Chiang Mai, Thailand, attendees were asked when their government will implement the cloud and what challenges they met while moving to the cloud. Nearly 43 per cent of the respondents said now is the time for cloud implementation, while a mere 19.4 per cent replied ‘the distant future’. Despite this positive shift towards cloud adoption amongst public agencies, security and data governance remain top considerations and challenges in the transition.
According to a 2011 Frost & Sullivan study in the Asia Pacific region, governments will adopt cloud computing only if they are convinced that their data will remain secure and available. Because security is paramount to government adoption, government agencies must explore the best combination of cloud solutions that can help them meet their critical IT demands and fully maximise IT assets, all without compromising security and data governance requirements.
Mitigating Security Risks
To mitigate potential security breaches, public agencies can look at open source solutions. Unlike proprietary code, the source codes and kernels that form the basis for many open operating systems and applications are available to the world at large. This level of openness is often mistakenly associated with lack of security, which is not the case. As with all software, security concerns arise when dealing with sensitive national information. In the United States, Red Hat has been collaborating with the government for close to a decade2 on open source technologies, including a close collaboration with the U.S. Department of Defense.
With open source, organisations are able to examine the actual code and understand how it works with their specific systems.
Today, the diverse open source landscape spans the traditional independent users, large enterprises, vendors (and not just the software vendors, but others that use open source within their systems), and government organisations. These user communities contribute to the overall security and general well- being of open source software.
Critically, end users should look for technologies that are backed by a vendor with a proven reputation and track record in the management of security. Open source technologies and their vendors provide an optimised approach to security, with access to the fast innovation of the open source community, and are a viable security choice for enterprises.
Cloud computing has now been established for long enough that it is no longer considered a "new" technology as much as a new option when it comes to building a strategic IT plan.