While singing high praises of the enterprise cloud services being used, Frank Baitman, the CIO of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, offered a criticism at a recent conference at which he was speaking. The scalability and flexibility of the cloud has been great for HHS, but Baitman believes standards could be implemented to make the industry stronger as a whole. Right now, the organization is working with one larger provider but is going to branch out to others in an effort to bring better value to taxpayers.
Baitman said in order to deliver value, HHS will adopt a new model that will help them compare price points, service-level agreements and other aspects of the contract, by standardizing areas they evaluate the cloud on. Providers that abide by what the government needs as part of their cloud services will likely be much more successful, as cloud professional Teresa Carlson said there has been a big move to the enterprise cloud for agencies. This is in large part thanks to former Obama administration CIO Vivek Kundra, who implemented the Cloud First provision, which led agencies to look to the cloud before other IT tools for new projects.
Compliance is a must
IT professional Alan Murphy wrote in a recent Forbes post that especially for government and highly regulated industries, complying with enterprise cloud regulations is absolutely essential. Many struggle to figure out how the cloud fits in with compliance, as he said companies did in the first wave of virtualization. Compliance is a big reason for this.
"Data transmission and storage can fall under many regional regulations involving the security and availability of personal information," he wrote. "For regulations such as HIPAA in the United States and the Data Protection Directive in the European Union, organizations are required to adhere to data compliancy laws throughout the life of the data."
Following regulations and achieving compliance means looking at where data is physically and technically stored, which many organizations may not look into before putting data into the enterprise cloud. This does not have to detail the cloud movement within a business or agency, Murphy said, as executives at the organization can make sure their data is stored in their same region to make everything a bit less complex.
Having a set of standards within the company would likely help them figure out what the best practices are for moving sensitive data into an enterprise cloud solution.
There's no question that cloud storage opens up new business opportunities for organizations in many different geographies. But there's also no question that how these new technologies are used and where they are located will impact decisions regarding outsourcing data storage to the cloud.
Verizon's recently released "2013 State of the Enterprise Cloud Report" said the enterprise cloud is becoming a much more popular tool for businesses, as the adoption of these tools rose by 90 percent from January 2012 to June 2013. Researchers said cloud-based memory implementation increased by 100 percent, as there has been a growing interest to meet security and regulatory compliance rules. The importance of meeting regulations has clearly not been lost on the industry as a whole.