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Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

We’ve spoken many times in the past about the growing cloud market, the opportunity this represents for resellers and the crucial role that connectivity plays in supporting the migration of applications from on-premise to hosted ‘cloud based’ solutions. A recent Microscope survey supports our view and identified that a third of the small business market has yet to take the leap to cloud, representing a sizeable opportunity for the channel if the blockers to adoption can be addressed; and according to the survey a key concern is security.

This is something our partner Outsourcery recently discussed in their opinion guest blog – Adopting cloud computing – what’s holding your customers back?.

Following the Microscope survey Andy Burton, chairman of the Cloud Industry Forum, said of the levels of confidence for cloud services as a viable business for the channel: ”On the one hand it shows healthy progression from hype and over-optimism that follows any new market trend toward a more healthy and tempered outlook. But arguably it shows a greater sense of caution than I would have expected at this stage”.

72% of those surveyed cited security as their chief fear, an understandable concern when moving from a solution that you have complete control of and which is hosted on your own premises to an externally hosted application from a third party supplier, especially when you consider we are talking about the customer’s business critical data. To provide practical help in addressing your clients’ security objections – as their trusted adviser – we’ve put together the following checklist for you to raise when negotiating with your cloud suppliers:

  • Where is personal data held? To comply with UK data protection the safe answer should be ”in the UK” – and as the legal responsibility is on your customer (the “data controller” in the jargon), your chosen data processor must confirm their compliance in writing
  • What happens to personal data held if a law enforcement agency requests access? If your customer knows this from the off, their own expectations can be managed appropriately.
  • What is the back-up strategy employed and does it meet the criteria above?
  • Is your data encrypted on its way to and at its remote location?
  • If the service goes down, would the SLA cover your customer’s trading losses?
  • What is the exit strategy if your customer wants their data back from the cloud provider?
  • Can they exit it AND be assured it has been purged from the cloud provider’s primary and back-up systems?

Armed with answers to these questions, your project will be in good shape to succeed and you should be able to dispel the majority of your customer’s security concerns. Of course the customer’s choice of connectivity option will also impact on this. It’s important to explain and discuss the role of connectivity when implementing cloud based solutions. For example, using a dedicated Ethernet connection with firewalls rather than a standard ‘shared’ broadband service and no protection will provide them with more security and peace of mind.

The European Commission has also identified risk and inadequate management as potential stumbling blocks to wider adoption of cloud computing and is planning to introduce standards to regulate the industry this year.

This is not from altruism but because the Commission recognises that, when done well, cloud computing has the potential to reduce capital expenditure and the running costs (direct and environmental) of local hardware and so bring new services to market, leading to growth in Europe. We can expect model contract terms by the end of this year and will of course share them with you when they become available.

So to conclude
As we’ve previously advised, cloud computing represents a profitable market to channel partners interested in reselling these services and the supporting connectivity but, to succeed in this market, resellers need to understand why some business customers are hesitant in adopting cloud computing. Microscope’s latest report suggests security is a major concern and although steps are being taken to implement regulation in the industry, it’s worth finding out as much as possible about the way the customer’s data will be transferred and stored to ensure you can satisfy their concerns. Similarly, the customer’s choice of connectivity will play a big role in the security of their data and the advantages of various connectivity solutions should be discussed with them.

By demonstrating you understand their pain points, you will resolve their concerns and build their trust which will undoubtedly help you to win their business and take advantage of this expanding market.

Have your say!
Have you received similar feedback from customers when considering cloud computing? Did you manage to overcome their concerns and if so how? We would love to hear about your experiences in this growing market, so please leave us a comment below.

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