Business continuity and the cloud: Storm warning

“Cloud services are proliferating because they offer employees tremendous flexibility—the explosion in the use of smartphones and tablets creates a tremendous need for anywhere/ anytime access to applications,” says Peter Westcott, business continuity management advisor at ContinuitySA. “The cloud is great for productivity but it could be a security and business-continuity disaster if not handled correctly.”

The growth in data spend at the expense of voice is testimony to the growing use of mobile devices to perform data-intensive work, empowered by sophisticated (and ever-cheaper) devices. According to World Wide Worx’s The mobile Internet in South Africa 2012, the average user has increased spend on data by 50 percent over the preceding 18 months.

“Spend on data is a barometer for the rapid increase both in the number of Internet users in South Africa and in the intensity with which experienced users engage with the Internet,” says Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx.

Westcott argues that many employees are using third-party cloud services (the public cloud) unilaterally because their corporate IT departments are simply not providing the support their working habits now require. This may result in corporate data being shared between project team members via a service like Dropbox, for example. He points out that this means that corporate data is being held by a third party under the custodianship of a person who might meanwhile have left the company or who is only a contractor—a likely scenario given the fluid organisational structures of the modern corporation.

Even when the IT department is involved in moving applications or other portions of the corporate IT into the cloud, the motivation is often to stretch IT budgets with too little thought given to data security.

Westcott notes that to provide for adequate business continuity, companies should consider using two cloud providers, with the data and application synchronised between the two. “It’s vital that you research each provider carefully to ensure that their physical hosting infrastructure is located in different geographic regions—you don’t want your backup to be located in the same data centre!” he advises.

Westcott argues that loss of control over one’s data should remain a key concern for companies using the cloud, particularly given the current and pending legislation relating to data protection and risk. He points out that public cloud providers are typically very large organisations that offer no service level agreements—and that when a problem occurs, just finding a human to deal with it can be a challenge. And, as the Snowden case has revealed, public cloud providers offer no protection against intrusive government oversight of the data stored on their systems.

The real solution, Westcott believes, is to retain control of one’s data while taking advantage of the cost and productivity benefits of the cloud model. He points out that there are numerous open-source tools that can be used to create a private cloud with all the services needed by employees. One example is ownCloud, which provides the same functionality as Dropbox but with data hosting controlled by the company.

“IT departments have to raise their games, and position themselves to provide cloud services to employees, so that there is no need to look at potentially unsafe public cloud services,” he says. “By creating a private cloud—which could be hosted in a third-party data centre—the company could provide its employees with the tools they need and get the cost benefits while retaining control of its important data and ensuring that proper business continuity measures are in place.”

Comment on This Article

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Our People

Allen Smith, Executive Chairman

Allen Smith, Executive Chairman

Michael Davies, Chief Executive Officer

Maxine Arnold, Chief Financial Officer

Maxine Arnold, Chief Financial Officer

Bradley Janse van Rensburg

Bradley Janse van Rensburg, Solution Design Manager

Mark Beverley, General Manager: Service Delivery

Wayne Reed, General Manager: R&D

Cindy Bodenstein, Marketing Manager

Miles Murray, General Manager: Sales

Miles Murray, General Manager: Sales

Tracey Linnell, Business Continuity Management

Tracey Linnell, General Manager: Advisory Services

About Us

ContinuitySA is the African continent’s leading business continuity management company.

Our team of highly skilled and qualified industry experts  can help prepare for and deal with potential threats to the optimal functioning of any business, as a result of unforeseen or sudden disruptions due to human error or natural events.

ContinuitySA provides clients with total business continuity solutions and complete outsourcing services, through a comprehensive range of professional services backed by an unrivalled nation-wide infrastructure of facilities, including product offerings and resources.

Our services are focused on the provision of complete business continuity planning, among which include:

•             Risk management,

•             Business impact analysis,

•             Business continuity plans,

•             Crisis management planning,

•             Provision of IT and business recovery facilities including office, contact centre, treasury dealing rooms and back-office Wintel, midrange and mainframe recovery areas. All of these technologies are supported by skilled technical personnel who assist in successful Business Continuity Plan testing and have experience in recovering from actual disasters.

We operate the largest recovery facilities in Southern Africa, with over 25000 sq/m of facilities in Gauteng (Midrand and Randburg), a smaller site in Cape Town of 3000sq/m as well as a 1500sq/m site in Gaborone, Botswana.

Contact Us

Gauteng

Unit5, Growthpoint Business Park

Corner Old Pretoria and Tonetti Road

Midrand

1685

PO Box 2638

Midrand

1685

Tel: + 27 11 554 8000

Fax: + 27 11 554 8150

 

Sales and Marketing:             

Office: (011) 554 8000

Fax: (011) 554 8050

Email: info@continuitysa.co.za

 

Western Cape

15 Maritz Street

Belville

Cape Town

7530

PO Box 897

Sanlamhof

7530

Tel: +27 21 917 5400

Fax: + 27 21 945 2762

 

ContinuitySA Botswana

Street  No 268

Private Bag 00346

Phakalane , Gaborone

Botswana

Tel: +267 360 6600

Fax: +267 318 1930

 

ContinuitySA Mozambique

Rua De Souza 18

Matola

Mozambique

Tel: +258 2172 6000

 

ContinuitySA Randburg

308 Kent Avenue

Randburg, Gauteng

Tel: 011 438 6889

 

ContinuitySA Somerset

Office: (011) 438 6889

Continuity Grove Offices

Block C, Olive Grove

Kynoch Road

Somerset West 7130

www.continuitysa.com or www.continuitysa.co.za

Tel: 021 917 5400