Avoiding the Five Hidden Costs of Cloud: Symantec

By Erin Harrison January 17, 2013

In the opening weeks of 2013, there is already a palpable shift in attitude about cloud computing. While there is still a subjective amount of hype, most organizations are at least discussing cloud.

In fact, more than 90 percent of all organizations are at least discussing cloud, up from 75 percent a year ago, according to Symantec’s recent Avoiding the Hidden Costs of Cloud 2013 Survey.

While many organizations are migrating to the cloud to gain competitive advantages around speed, agility and flexibility, the hidden costs of cloud are also coming to the forefront.

“Businesses are adopting new technology at an unprecedented pace, and the cloud is one area where we’re making the most progress. And by now it’s clear that the cloud provides significant advantages to businesses, improving agility and reducing costs. But there is a darker side as well that organizations may overlook – hidden costs of cloud implementation that can negate the benefits if not properly contained,” according to a Symantec blog post on the survey.

Symantec’s other findings revealed that enterprises and SMBs are experiencing 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.

However, companies that take control of cloud deployments will be able to take advantage of the flexibility and cost savings associated with the cloud, while minimizing the data control and security risks linked with rogue cloud use, according to Francis deSouza, group president, Enterprise Products and Services at Symantec.

The company identified five hidden costs of cloud and how to avoid them:

 1. Rogue Cloud Implementations

According to the survey, rogue cloud deployments are one of the cost pitfalls. It is a surprisingly common problem, found in more than three quarters (77 percent) of businesses within the last year. It also seems to be an issue experienced more by enterprises (83 percent), due to their larger company size, than SMBs (70 percent). 

 2. Cloud Backup and Recovery Issues

Cloud is complicating backup and recovery. First, most organizations use three or more solutions to back-up their physical, virtual and cloud data, leading to increased IT inefficiencies, risk and training costs. Furthermore, 43 percent of organizations have lost cloud data (47 percent of enterprises and 36 percent of SMBs), and most (68 percent) have experienced recovery failures.

3. Inefficient Cloud Storage

One of the key advantages to cloud storage is how simple it is to provision. Sometimes this simplicity leads to inefficient cloud storage. Generally, organizations strive to maintain a storage utilization rate above 50 percent. According to the survey, cloud storage utilization is surprisingly low at 17 percent.

 4. Compliance and eDiscovery Concerns

According to the survey, 49 percent of organizations are concerned about meeting compliance requirements in the cloud, and a slightly larger number (53 percent) are concerned about being able to prove they have met cloud compliance requirements.  eDiscovery is creating additional pressure on businesses to quickly find the right information. One-third of businesses reported receiving eDiscovery requests for cloud data. Of those, two-thirds have missed their cloud discovery deadlines, leading to fines and legal risks.

5. Data in Transit Issues

Organizations have all sorts of assets in the cloud – such as web properties, online businesses or web applications – that require SSL certificates to protect the data in transit whether it is personal or financial information, business transactions and other online interactions. The survey showed companies found managing many SSL certificates to be highly complex: Just 27 percent rate cloud SSL certificate management as easy and only 40 percent are certain their cloud-partner’s certificates are in compliance with corporate standards.

 Four Steps to Avoid Hidden Costs

Symantec said that ignoring these hidden costs will have a serious impact on business. However, these issues are easily mitigated with careful planning, implementation and management: 

1)      Focus policies on information and people, not technologies or platforms;

2)      Educate, monitor and enforce policies;

3)      Embrace tools that are platform agnostic; and

4)      Deduplicate data in the cloud.


Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli

Executive Editor, Cloud Computing

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