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How SMEs can Outlive the Cloud Security Myths

Authored by: Veera Swamy Arava, CEO and Director, SAT Infotech

Cloud Computing has literally become the business backbone today. Imagine this: more than 50 percent of all compute workloads are already on the cloud. This is certainly an incredible progress for a technology consumption model which became mainstream barely a few years ago. 

The initial perception of cloud as an affordable storage destination—changed quickly as we watched. Organizations are clearly moving their business-critical applications to cloud. An average enterprise is estimated to be using as many as 1400 cloud-based applications today, including core applications, sensitive data and critical workloads! 

An in-depth survey conducted by Cloud Security Alliance reveals that close to 65 percent of organizations are planning or in the middle of an ERP cloud migration project. Closer home, about 50 percent of new SAP ERP (which is the mostly widely deployed platform globally) implementations are moving to the cloud. 

While the infrastructure cost associated with on-premise ERP implementations has been one of the biggest reasons for cloud migration in India, organizations see additional benefits. The ability to seamlessly scale as the business grows, faster time to value, resource optimization etc are just a few of the many advantages of cloud model. 

Indian SMEs riding the cloud wave 

India remains one of the largest markets for cloud globally. The Cloud spending in India is estimated to grow at 30 percent per annum and cross USD 7 Bn by 2022, according to NASSCOM. 

One of the drivers for this exceptional growth is the increasing demand and adoption of cloud services among Indian SMEs. Over the years, cloud has made technology more accessible and affordable for Indian SMEs. A shift to cloud has very clear benefits for these organizations in terms of increased productivity, profitability and ability to innovate.

The Indian SME sector, which serves as the backbone of our economy, is undergoing a major transformation today. They are more enthusiastic about digital technology adoption than ever. This is a huge change from the traditional approach to technology as a non-productive backend system—and cloud plays a vital role in driving this fundamental change among SMEs. 

Availability of custom-made cloud solutions and accessibility to specialized cloud providers are addressing some of the core challenges for SMEs. Nevertheless, this segment remains an under-penetrated market. Adoption of core business applications in this sectoris still very limited and so is the usage of cloud for mission-critical applications. 

Are Cloud security risks real or perceived? 

Security remains a major concern for companies while moving their mission-critical applications to the cloud. More so for SMEs because they traditionally have limited resources to manage their security infrastructure and often have less comprehensive approach to security posture. But a lot of these concerns around cloud are in fact ‘perceived risks’, and security in the cloud can be an improvement over on-premise security. 

But the perception that cloud data is at increased risk is changing fast. Security is now considered to be a shared responsibility—with 53 percent of organizations surveyed by Cloud Security Alliance report to understanding a shared responsibility model for security with their cloud providers and third-party vendors. This is a welcome change and a step in the right direction. 

But all risks are not perceived; there are actual risks too on cloud. The most important one is the lack of internal skills and security best practices among SMEs. When business critical applications like ERP are moved to the cloud, we are also moving sensitive data and critical workloads, which are highly essential for the efficiency and stability of the organization. 

It’s important that cloud providers focusing the SME sector understand the nuances of these businesses and help them make a hassle-free cloud transition.  SMEs areincreasingly opting for cloud providers who are specialized in offering ‘managed’ cloud services—with built-in security–rather than vanilla solutions. 

Cloud drastically changes the security equations for an organization. For SMEs, who may not have the wherewithal to invest on additional security measures, cloud may seem complex. But it really doesn’t have to be — cloud offers inherited security and some of the modern ERP applications have ‘security by design’ approach. Cloud is too valuable to be overlooked for unsubstantiated fears around security. 

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