Multi-tenant clouds still cause for concern at SNW Europe

Attendees of this week's SNW Europe 2010 virtualisation show in Frankfurt share their public cloud security concerns.

FRANKFURT -- Despite an increasing uptake in private cloud environments, multi-tenant public clouds are still a cause for concern, SNW Europe 2010 attendees said.

Taking place this week in Frankfurt at the Congress Centre, 'The Power of 3' theme encompasses Data Centre Technologies, SNW Europe and Virtualisation World.

Most technical errors are caused by humans, and most corporate data that is accidently leaked is via employees that lose laptops.


Jerome Lecat, CEO of Scality,

Several delegates feel the public cloud is currently best suited for larger enterprises wanting to backup data, but it will take some years yet before it becomes mainstream.

Thomas Simon, chief information officer at enterprise service provider IG Metall Vorstand, said the company chooses to use a private cloud but offers public clouds to its customers.

"Customers that do decide on a public cloud use it mostly for storage backup, not for their critical applications. Customers are paranoid about putting their critical data into the cloud," said Simon.

Simon explained that IG Metall Vorstand has three data centres located in Germany as part of their disaster recovery strategy. Currently, the service provider does not use a public cloud to backup data because of concerns over security.

However, Jan Tkac, key account manager at a Central European VAR, said the public cloud might be better suited for SMEs that don't want to invest in a second data centre as a disaster recovery strategy.

"If an SME runs out of capacity, the public cloud is a cheaper option than building a second data centre just for backup; however, it will still take some time for the public cloud to be adopted due to security fears," he said.

Bob Plumridge, chairman of industry body SNIA Europe, said educating IT professionals about the benefits of the public cloud is the key to unlocking industry fears.

Plumridge said he has not yet heard of any commercial companies utilising a public cloud model: "I can only think of big companies like Google that are using a public cloud because of the need for more backup capacity. On average most companies are either already utilising or are considering a private cloud."

Mike Murphy, director of SNIA Europe, agreed: "With more knowledge comes less apprehension. More cloud education gives IT professionals the comfort factor in knowing that their data will be just fine if it is looked after by someone else."

He predicts that companies will create virtualisation policies in the future based on which data should go into the private cloud and which should go into the public cloud.

Changing business models
Murphy compared the IT industry to the music industry, saying companies need to adapt their business models for the better.

"At first the music industry did not want to embrace music being available for download online. However, they soon realised that they weren't being harmed by this new model, but if they were to change their business model they could actually benefit from it instead," he added.

Ashar Baig, senior director for product marketing at service provider Asigra, said that out of the company's 250,000 customers, the majority of them utilise both a private and public model.

"There are still some apprehensions about multi-tenant clouds, so it is important to pick a service provider that encrypts all of its customers' data," said Baig.

Asigra sells to other service providers, which according to Baig mostly use a mixture of the private and public cloud for an offsite backup and disaster recovery strategy.

Customers are paranoid about putting their critical data into the cloud.


Thomas Simon, CIO of IG Metall Vorstand,

"Backup is the application for the cloud -- 93% of cloud users use it for storage backup. This is currently the most popular way to utilise the cloud. Most of our customers are using our public cloud, due to company growth and the need for more capacity," he added.

Jerome Lecat, chief executive of cloud storage vendor Scality, said the fear of the public cloud is real but irrational.

"The fear of public cloud is the same as the fear about using card payments online. The security for both of these services is usually very high, and it's not the technology that is the security risk but the humans that are running it. Most technical errors are caused by humans, and most corporate data that is accidently leaked is via employees that lose laptops," said Lecat.

According to Lecat, there is nothing inherent about the public cloud that makes it unsecure, but it will take time to get that message across to users.

Kayleigh Bateman is the Site Editor of

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