Study: Cloud Security Remains Top Concern For Businesses

Cloud continues to pick up steam, but end users are still paralyzed by fears around security issues.

That's what an Insight study, conducted in partnership with the Thunderbird School of Global Management, found as it surveyed IT leaders in businesses representing more than $4 billion in annual revenue. The study was released this week at Insight's annual partner forum Synergy 2015 in Tempe, Ariz.

The study by the solution provider, No. 14 on CRN's SP500 list, found that businesses want to move to the cloud to gain productivity and efficiency, but harbor massive concerns over security. In particular, the survey respondents cited that "unknown" security factors about the cloud were their biggest concern.

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The drivers behind the security concerns are twofold, said Harish Krishnamurthy, senior vice president of Insight Cloud. First, he said clients are bombarded almost daily with news of major security breaches, from Home Depot to Target and more. Second, he said clients still know very little in terms of how cloud works, which gives them a fear of the unknown. Those two factors combined create a lot of fear with clients, Krishnamurthy said.

The key for solution providers is to help educate clients on both the benefits of the cloud, as well as addressing some of the security concerns and how they can be fixed, Krishnamurthy said.

"Once you explain to them what are all the security measures you'll be taking, compliance processes in place, physical security ... once you take all that into account, security is no longer an issue," Krishnamurthy said.

Insight has seen success with its clients when they move just a small aspect or application of their business to the cloud, Krishnamurthy said. As clients feel more comfortable and see the solution is working, they are more inclined to ramp up their cloud resources.

For example, Krishnamurthy said a recent client had a lot of employees sharing proprietary information over local file-sharing accounts. Insight helped set them up with 70 seats of Box as a secure environment for the employees to transfer large files. Now that the company has gotten its toes wet, Krishnamurthy said they plan to expand to more than 300 seats of Box as well as other cloud solutions.

"This is typical, where clients have a concern about how things work, then they understand a little more, then they start to adopt ... and they get comfortable and grow it up pretty rapidly," Krishnamurthy said.

Insight is also providing education to clients through its Insight ON, a project it launched to provide articles, research and information on topics such as cloud, healthcare and education.

Going forward, Krishnamurthy predicted that as more businesses of all sizes adopt cloud technologies, the comfort level in the marketplace will continue to increase. In particular, he said that as SMBs and enterprises get more comfortable with the cloud, he expects they will put more pressure on driving value from the investments and infrastructure. As those pressures change, he said, that means perceptions about security and the cloud will also change.

"I would expect that a year from now, security will drop and something else will come to the forefront," Krishnamurthy said.