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Editor's note: What are the best practices in moving data to the clouds? Learn more here!



The drumbeat on the barriers to enterprise cloud infrastructure (or IaaS) adoption continues to roll to a single refrain, the enterprise won't adopt the cloud because it's not secure. Enterprises simply can't trust their data to the cloud. Unfortunately, this is true. But don't blame the cloud.

It's actually easy to argue that keeping your data on a properly secured cloud site is more secure than keeping it inside your corporate premises. The problem is that most cloud infrastructure providers are completely insecure. Enterprises would be insane to put corporate data on cloud infrastructure solutions today -- at least until network issues, user control and process control are addressed.

Having run both a variety of highly secured SaaS sites as well as internal corporate infrastructures, I know the headaches of keeping a corporate data center locked down. Instead, on cloud applications you are dealing with a single environment, in a highly secure facility, with a single OS, single storage environment and usually only two network connections (a front end HTTPS connection and a private circuit for management.) In addition, SaaS applications and environments are constantly being audited for compliance reasons. Here at OpSource, for example, we regularly go through three major audits across all of our applications, and many more application specific audits. Plus all of our employees have been background checked. How many enterprise IT departments can make that claim?

Oh, and we don't have to deal with laptops.

So if SaaS application vendors such as Salesforce.com and Intacct have hard-earned reputations for security, why don't cloud infrastructure providers have the same reputation? Simply put, because their environments are not up to par with most Internet gaming sites, much less enterprise applications.

What makes them insecure? I'm sure a security expert can give you some very detailed explanations (as MIT and UCSD did). But even a security neophyte can see the holes around three critical areas: shared networks, process control and user management.

Shared Networks -- VLAN of the Lost

The vast majority of cloud environments are one big shared network. All systems are deployed onto the same layer. Most Internet sites figured out way back in 1996 that only web servers should actually sit on the Internet. All other servers, and most specifically database servers, should sit on a separate network that can talk to web servers but is never directly connected to the Internet. In the cloud that option doesn't exist. Every system sits on a flat network. You can see the problem.

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