Eye on Oracle

May 4 2009   9:22PM GMT

Is your data secure in the cloud?

Shayna Garlick Shayna Garlick Profile: Shayna Garlick

As Oracle’s Bill Hodak looked out at the approximately 30 attendees at the Oracle in the Cloud session Monday at Collaborate, he noted it was probably the largest group he’s spoken to about cloud computing over the past two years.

Despite the growing interest, however, session attendees were not hesitant to voice their concerns – the biggest being the security of their data.

Hodak began his session by describing the benefits of cloud computing, which he described as “computing resources residing on the internet (aka’the cloud’).”  Cloud computing requires no long-term commitment, is infinitely scalable and allows the user to be billed by consumption rather than a fixed price, he said.

He went on to describe how Oracle works with Amazon — the top cloud computing vendor and Oracle’s first cloud computing partner — to provide Amazon Web Services for Oracle customers. Users can create an Amazon Web Services account to deploy Oracle software or back up an Oracle Database. Hodak described Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), an environment which can be used for Oracle deployments. In EC2, users can also choose from a catalog of virtual machine images, such as Oracle Enterprise Linux or APEX, and within 10 minutes have a fully functional Oracle environment.

But one user had a question that Hodak admitted was a good one — how does one ensure privacy and securing of personal data when operating in the cloud?

Amazon is just beginning to promote its cloud services to larger enterprises rather than smaller start-ups, Hodak said, so security is just now becoming a bigger concern. Though he could offer no specific details, Hodak said that Amazon is in the process of getting certified as a “secure organization,” but in the meantime, users should encrypt their data through Oracle.

Private, on-premise clouds are also an option that that may lessen security-related concerns. Hodak said these are a good option for large enterprises that might find it difficult to move to public clouds in the immediate future. While many companies may not be ready to move to a third-party cloud, internal clouds can allow developers to faster respond to their organization’s need at a lower cost.

Hodak emphasized that few enterprises are actually in the deployment stage of their cloud computing initiatives-most are still only in the evaluating stage or deploying non-mission critical systems.

But with Oracle cloud computing still in the initial stages, what can we expect in the future? While most of that is still to be seen, it looks like Oracle is close to announcing seven new online products as part of its SaaS initiative.

Is security a concern for you when considering cloud computing? Has your organization considered cloud computing as an option? What factors have helped you decide for or against a cloud computing initiative?

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