Leading With Security Can Be Key To Converting Hesitant Customers To The Cloud

More customers today are keeping an open mind when it comes to adopting cloud solutions. However, for the stubbornly cloud-shy customer, experts said leading with a security sales pitch could be the key.

"There's a lot of angst about security, so if you talk to CIOs or smaller-business CEOs, the top of their list for IT concerns is security. ... It's a great way to start a conversation," said Bill Lucchini, senior vice president and general manager of Sophos Cloud.

For example, Lucchini said security has helped drive Sophos Cloud to be the fastest-growing product in the company's history, growing more than tenfold last year. By having that conversation about security, businesses can recognize that a good way to secure their company is to leverage the technology already available in the cloud, he said.

[Related: Cloud Security Week 2015]

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At San Diego-based solution provider Total Tech, Business Development Manager Inez Luna said she sees security driving the conversation and sales across both services and projects.

"Everything is driven by security," Luna said.

That conversation is a drastic departure from the past few years, in which security was a clear barrier to cloud sales, said Rajiv Gupta, founder and CEO of Campbell, Calif.-based security vendor Skyhigh Networks.

"Our company is having a discussion today where security is actually better in the public cloud so, rather than an impediment, security can be the catalyst," Gupta said.

That sentiment was echoed by many security experts, who said they are seeing a shift away from the reputation the cloud has held over the past few years as not being secure enough for companies’ critical data.

Chenxi Wang, vice president of cloud security and strategy at San Jose, Calif.-based vendor CipherCloud, said it is now clear that ultimately most everything will live in the cloud as demand for the technology increases.

However, security will be either the accelerating or the limiting factor when it comes to how quickly the market will get there. She compared the process to picking out a daycare facility for your child -- you need to make sure it is safe and your child will be well taken care of. Clients are the same way about their data, she said, and want to know it will be protected in the cloud.

"You would be stupid not to lead with security," Wang said.

That presents a large opportunity for solution providers who have the security know-how to help clients move to the cloud securely, said Scott Hazdra, senior security consultant, security solutions, at Cisco Systems, San Jose, Calif.

"More organizations are recognizing their own limitations around security and have looked outside their four walls to bring in the expertise that's necessary to solve some of these more complicated problems. That's typically cloud-based," Hazdra said. "Having an extremely experienced team at a cloud solution provider worrying about these things 24/7 puts them in a much better position than if they had tried to do these things themselves."

That's important, Skyhigh Network's Gupta said, because cloud security was a $4.2 billion business in 2014 and is expected to be $8.71 billion by 2019, citing numbers from research firm MarketsandMarkets. That's a huge revenue opportunity for solution providers, he said.

"Cloud is galloping at a faster and faster [rate]," Gupta said. "Cloud security is the one thing holding us back from leveraging the full power of the cloud and making sure we can grab hold of the powers of the cloud."