“Many small SaaS providers are spotty teenagers operating from a bedroom”

Natalie Steers
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“The Cloud generally offers better security than on-premise, where you have to be careful is the 'Wild West' of the small providers.”

That’s according to Ian McDonald, head of infrastructure and Cloud at News International, who, alongside Graeme Hackland from the Lotus Formula 1 team, discussed security issues when moving from on-premise to the Cloud.

“We’ve been a litle conservative with the Cloud,” said Hackland at the Business Cloud Summit in London. “We’ve had concerns around data security – we don’t want other teams knowing our most secret data. If they did we’d lose our competitive advanatge. But going foward it is likely we’ll end up with 75% of our data in the Cloud.”

McDonald explains that News International, which uses Amazon’s Cloud service to manage digital subscribers, ensures its infrastructure architects check the reliability and security of every single smaller provider used. “We learnt that the hard way and had to reassess who we used,” he said. “People thought Rupert Murdoch was an idiot for putting up a paywall but it has really worked for us.”

“Firms like Amazon and Google are very good. I previously had an occasion in an earlier role when we tried to shift Cloud providers and were told, 'You don’t own your own data, we’re not giving it to you.' That was 2009, and was a SaaS company still in existence today. We tried to sue them.”

So how can companies avoid these pitfalls when choosing a supplier?

Hackland believes there’s no reason why you should treat Cloud suppliers any different to business partnerships. “We set up partnerships. As opposed to paying a vendor moey, these partnerships have an interest in our success and because it’s F1, people are willing to do that, they want to be an official supplier to an F1 team. 

“But if they don't get it right, avoid getting pushed around call centres trying to resoluve your problem.”

McDonald added: “We went through a period where the big vendors didn’t understood customer service. Talking to someone at Google was impossible four years ago! But we now have traditional account mangers, and the same is true at Amazon.

“Most service providers may charge extra for that service but it’s important – you will need IT support. Check that the vendor you choose includes support with the package that their offering.

“The Cloud industry has matured vastly but we're now starting to see the likes of SAP and IBM actually deliver something.”


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