Beware the rogue cloud

A survey has revealed an upsurge in rogue clouds and other hidden costs for enterprise organisations in South Africa.

Organisations are widely migrating to the cloud to gain competitive advantages around speed, agility and flexibility, says security software firm, Symantec.

In fact, in South Africa, nine out of 10 enterprise organisations are involved with cloud computing with many reporting escalating costs tied to rogue cloud use, complex backup and recovery, and inefficient cloud storage.

Rogue clouds are defined as business groups implementing public cloud applications that are not managed by, or integrated into, the company’s IT infrastructure.

It is a surprisingly common problem, found in 80% of enterprise businesses in South Africa within the last year, says Symantec.

“Among organisations that reported rogue cloud issues, organisations are experiencing issues such as the exposure of confidential information, account takeover issues, defacement of Web properties, or stolen goods or services.”

“The most commonly cited reasons for undertaking rogue cloud projects were to save time and money,” Symantec said.

The group’s Avoiding the Hidden Costs of Cloud 2013 Survey represents 3,236 organisations from 29 countries, with 100 enterprise organisations in South Africa.

“By taking control of cloud deployments, companies can seize advantage of the flexibility and cost savings associated with the cloud, while minimising the data control and security risks linked with rogue cloud use,” said Mark Smissen, business development manager for in Africa.

Compliance and eDiscovery 

According to the survey, 60% of organisations in South Africa are mindful of meeting compliance requirements in the cloud, while 59% are concerned about being able to prove they have met cloud compliance requirements.

According to Symantec, eDiscovery is creating additional pressure on businesses to quickly find the right electronic information for legal requests or internal investigation, such as a Human Resources (HR) case.

The survey found that one out of every five enterprise businesses in South Africa reported receiving eDiscovery requests for cloud data. Of those, more than half (55%) have missed their cloud eDiscovery deadlines, and 40% were unable to meet the requirement at all, leading to fines and legal risks.

“With the Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) act’s implementation coming soon, many CIOs may have to audit existing systems to ensure that the company complies with the new legislation,” said Smissen.

Cloud backup and recovery 

Cloud is complicating backup and recovery, says Symantec. First, 64% of South African enterprise organisations use three or more solutions to back-up their physical, virtual and cloud data, leading to increased IT inefficiencies, risk and training costs. Furthermore, 39% of these organisations have lost cloud data and most (64%) have experienced recovery failures, the security software firm says.

The group adds that most see cloud recovery as a slow, tedious process; 34% estimate it would take three or more days to recover from a catastrophic loss of data in the cloud.

Inefficient cloud storage

One of the key advantages to cloud storage is how simple it is to provision, opines Symantec. It says that generally, organisations strive to maintain a storage utilisation rate above 50%.

According to the survey, cloud storage utilisation is very low at a global level, around 17 percent, which shows that organisations are investing in more storage than is needed ultimately driving up costs.

Furthermore, 46% of organisations in South Africa admit that very little, if any of their cloud data, is being deduplicated, further compounding the problem.

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Beware the rogue cloud