Security and privacy remain top issues for many organizations exploring whether to adopt cloud-based business intelligence, according to a new study by Dresner Advisory Services, the advisory firm founded by Howard Dresner.
“There is still a great deal of trepidation around cloud,” Dresner wrote in a Sept. 24 posting on Sandhill.com. “Cloud software companies are making progress, but I don’t think it’s as dramatic as anyone would have expected or hoped. It’s just hard.” Of the 859 respondents to his 2012 Wisdom of Crowds Cloud Business Intelligence Market Study, some 59 percent cited those aforementioned security and privacy issues as major issues.
But that doesn’t mean all companies adopting cloud BI are embracing sound security principles: some 21 percent of those surveyed had no requirement for cloud security. “Some of that is an education issue,” Dresner added. “I think that there needs to be a great deal more education around cloud in general and cloud business intelligence specifically. But that’s a long-term process.”
Dresner also pointed out how IT administrators, CIOs, and other pros are concerned about a lack of control associated with cloud BI applications, which (in the case of public clouds) can result in data stored offsite. “IT has a tremendous fear about loss of control,” he wrote. “These other issues [security, privacy and data integration] aren’t artificial; they are real issues. But the cloud fundamentally changes how organizations provide information services to the users, and that’s a real concern for IT.”
He ultimately sees cloud BI as “driven by pockets in the marketplace” rather than subject to broad-based adoption, with strong potential in very specific verticals such as healthcare. “Ultimately, the cloud is where business intelligence will end up,” he concluded. “The more that organizations move their operational applications to the cloud, the more adoption we’ll see of BI in the cloud.” Once that data is floating in the cloud, “there will be no resistance to doing the BI analysis up there.”
Of course, the cloud and data bring up a variety of security issues, and demand that those organizations considering a cloud BI platform do some due diligence before implementation. A survey by Symantec and the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), conducted in May of this year, suggested that a significant number of companies were unprepared to lock down their use of public cloud services in a way that keeps data safe.
Good cloud security steps include an examination of data residency (i.e., where the company’s data actually resides, and how that residency could be affected by local laws), an examination of data encryption options (including encryption vs. tokenization), and policies for data access.