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Dollar signs and security measures face off in the cloud

by Scott Wallask

August 4, 2011

By Scott Wallask, SAPexperts

The cloud hanging over your head isn’t necessarily about bad news anymore, but instead about whether your company is going to invest in hosted off-site technical services.

Cloud computing and software-as-a-service are on the lips of many SAP BI professionals because in theory, the cloud can lower costs and give users more flexibility.

But Bridgette Chambers, CEO of Americas’ SAP Users’ Group (ASUG), told the ASUG New England Chapter last week the debate over the cloud isn’t just about hype vs. reality. It’s more accurately about hype vs. reality vs. security.

Chambers’ comments make sense. I’m not the only one who worries about whether my personal banking information is really safe when I make transactions online. Why should SAP customers feel any differently about their sensitive information flowing out into the unknown?

I wrote earlier on our BusinessObjects Expert site about how attendees at the Black Hat Briefings conference were plan ning to attempt hacking into SAP’s systems. I don’t know if cloud applications were on that list, but if people who hack as a hobby take their efforts to such a grand scale, I wonder what the real bad guys are up to.

(Read three questions to ask about cloud security here, courtesy of SAPinsider.)

The biggest thing I worry about for SAP BI users and others is whether convenience and cost reduction will trump cloud security. For example, in the airline industry, security takes a way, way back seat to lower costs and convenience every day. If it didn’t, we might all be paying $1,000 for every domestic flight to ensure measures are in place for truly safe travel.

SAP and VMS Consulting recently cooperated on a study that found, among other conclusions, that when companies upgrade to their own private cloud, there is a 90% savings in hardware costs and 30% savings in upgrade costs, said Ken Saul, applications specialist with EMC, who also spoke to the ASUG New England Chapter. Part of EMC’s mission is to lead customers to cloud computing, Saul added.

However, not all SAP customers have dollar signs in the eyes as they look at the cloud’s advantages, he said. “IT has embraced the cloud, but SAP owners haven’t yet,” Saul said.

Lots of questions remain about the long-term viability of the cloud, Chambers said. Next time cloud computing comes up at your team meeting, mention the hype vs. reality vs. security formula and instigate some healthy debate.

By the way, if you're interested in more information about cloud computing, keep tabs on our upcoming Cloud 2012 conference February 28 through March 2 Las Vegas.

Follow Scott on Twitter @BI_expert

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