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The greatest challenge facing longer-term adoption of cloud
computing services is not security, but rather cloud interoperability
and data portability, say cloud computing experts from IEEE, a
technical professional association. At the same time, IEEE’s experts
say cloud providers could reassure customers by improving the tools
they offer enterprise customers to give them more control over their
own data and applications while offering a security guarantee.

Today, many public cloud networks are configured as closed systems
and are not designed to interact with each other. The lack of
integration between these networks makes it difficult for organizations
to consolidate their IT systems in the cloud and realize productivity
gains and cost savings. To overcome this challenge, industry standards
must be developed to help cloud service providers design interoperable
platforms and enable data portability, the organization said.

"Security is certainly a very important consideration, but it’s not
what will inhibit further adoption," said Dr. Alexander Pasik, CIO at
IEEE and an early advocate of cloud computing as an analyst at Gartner
in the 1990s. "To achieve the economies of scale that will make cloud
computing successful, common platforms are needed to ensure users can
easily navigate between services and applications regardless of where
they’re coming from, and enable organizations to more cost-effectively
transition their IT systems to a services-oriented model."

According to industry research firm IDC, revenue from public cloud
computing services is expected to reach $55.5 billion by 2014, up from
$16 billion in 2009. Cloud computing plays an important role in
people’s professional and personal lives by supporting a variety of
software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications used to store healthcare
records, critical business documents, music and e-book purchases,
social media content, and more.

However, the IEEE said lack of interoperability still presents
challenges for organizations interested in consolidating a host of
enterprise IT systems on the cloud. According to IEEE Fellow Elisa
Bertino, professor of Computer Science at Purdue University and
research director at the Center for Education and Research in
Information Assurance, the interoperability issue is more pressing than
perceived data security concerns.

"Security in the cloud is no different than security issues that
impact on-premises networks. Organizations are not exposing themselves
to greater security risks by moving data to the cloud. In fact, an
organization’s data is likely to be more secure in the cloud because
the vendor is a technology specialist whose business model is built on
data protection." 

However, Steve O’Donnell, an IEEE member and former global head of
Data Centres at BT in the United Kingdom, suggested much of the concern
is about control for IT managers. "There’s a lack of enterprise tools
that enable management of security and availability in the cloud in the
same way as in a data center," he said. "Enterprises believe their own
data centers are secure and available, and want to own the management
of cloud security and availability rather than outsourcing it to a
third party."