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Cloud Security - Just how secure is "The Cloud"?

We’ve previously blogged about why we use the Windows Azure cloud platform for our hosting and infrastructure. It’s flexible, cost effective and very reliable. This might lead you to ask about the security features and how cloud computing compares with a “build your own” approach when it comes to securing your customers’ data and preventing unauthorized access.

The main concern when it comes to cloud security is how easy it is for people to access the information your website or application is storing in the cloud. The truth is that cloud platforms such as Azure are in fact a lot more secure than any bespoke infrastructure, whether it's in a third party data centre or in-house. We can show you how the cloud looks after important data and how it can be recovered easily if and when things go wrong.

24/7 Monitoring

Data centres that provide the flexibility and reliability standards that we now expect from cloud providers can’t afford to fail or have any downtime. Specialist engineers constantly manage the data centres and they're on-site 24 hours a day. This mean that someone's always on-hand if any problems should arise.

Bespoke monitoring software is used to automatically highlight any hardware that is about to fail or operating outside its normal parameters. It's quickly rectified, usually automatically, and always with very little downtime - usually none at all!

Isolation and Encryption

All internal communications are encrypted and behind some of the best hardware and software firewalls available. This isolation ensures that access from outside is limited only to those sources that are expected. Users attempting to access your application’s code or data from the Internet will find it a huge challenge. We can advise you on the best approach to security depending on your application's requirements.

External access to the data centres physical buildings is strictly limited to a small number of operations staff, each of which are forced to change their access credentials on a regular basis. No-one can access facilities without proper clearance and stringent access control measures are enforced at all times.

Location

A common concern when it comes to cloud hosting is that your data is not stored securely in one location, but moved constantly across multiple servers and data centres. This sounds like a serious security concern, but you can rest assured that this isn't the case.

We have complete control over where your data is stored in a cloud hosted solution. It doesn’t move around from one place to another. You can specify exactly what data centre it’s stored in. You might want to add extra redundancy by synchronising data securely between more than one location, which can increase reliability in case of a serious failure, and also improve availability for users who are located geographically closest to each data centre.

Redundancy

One of the great inherent features of the cloud is its high level of data and operational redundancy. If and when things go wrong they can usually be corrected automatically and before they impact on end users. Data centres have a minimum of two power sources along with on-site power generation facilities for extended operation off-grid. Your important data is securely replicated when your application is in operation, but we take additional, regular backups of your important data and we can restore it in minutes if the worst does happen.

We have a lot of experience in designing secure cloud hosted solutions in Windows Azure that are reliable, easily scalable and most importantly, secure - both for you and your users. In addition to the information we've highlighted here you can find out more about cloud security at the Windows Azure Trust Centre.

Talk to The Cloud Experts

Please contact us to find out more about how the cloud can help you streamline your business and increase reliability and availability of your new or existing applications.

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