Clouds

Bringing G-Cloud back down to earth

By: James Bindseil, President and CEO of Globalscape
Published: Monday, June 1, 2015 - 11:11 GMT Jump to Comments

How to secure your local network without hindering user experience

The regular pushing and marketing of G-Cloud has made cloud technology difficult to ignore in the public sector.

Cloud services spending in the public sector is expected to double in size by 2018, accounting for half of global software and storage spending.

This comes at a time when general consumer use of cloud technology is also rapidly rising. Staff expectations demand this same level of functionality in the workplace.

The cloud is being considered based on user perceptions that it provides them with greater flexibility, the ability to work faster and the feeling that they’re using the most cutting edge technology.

However, for the security and IT departments – especially in the public sector – the real obstacle is security.

The cloud is inherently easy to access and can be difficult to secure. There’s no power plug to pull in the event of an online incident.

The best means to implementing robust security protocols remains in a layered on-premise approach. Remote working and globalisation have traditionally made it almost impossible to keep everything safe behind the walls of the internal system.

As the cloud advances, so is on-premise technology, growing in flexibility and adaptability. Cloud is no longer the only option.

One major issue that the availability of the cloud brings, though, is that employees can store confidential information away from the control of IT administrators.

This is a serious concern for the public sector, an industry that is responsible for large amounts of sensitive personal information.

It is therefore critical to ensure the right balance of security, usability and accessibility. This has not traditionally been easy to achieve but by looking for software that caters to these needs, organisations can get that cloud feel, whilst keeping everything safe and where it belongs.

Sometimes this means considering on-premises tools that offer cutting edge user experience, and for others, it makes sense to actually use the cloud.

User experience

In my experience, the implementation of a system is usually the easy bit. The greater challenge is securing overall staff buy-in.

The modern workplace, public or private sector, is full of temptations to cut corners - making it ever more critical that usability is put at the heart of any implementation.

Ease of access to unsafe storage and distribution, combined with modern time pressures and workloads, creates a considerable threat.

Our clients tell us this is becoming more of a concern as public sector organisations alter the way they operate due to spending cuts.

Software that allows for mobility and the sharing of data with third parties can be designed with similar functionality and user experience to modern cloud or even consumer offerings.

Replicating experiences from other, frequently used platforms can make a huge impact in staff adopting a new solution. Especially when those solutions provide the security and compliance features that many organisations desperately search for.

Our public sector customers tell us functionality and security are both key considerations when they’re looking for information sharing solutions.

Organisations without the functional means to make day-to-day activity secure are likely to see greater numbers of data breaches, as a result of employees taking largely unnecessary (and unknowing) risks in order to save time.

The risk these breaches pose are even greater in the public sector, with so much public information in its care, any minor breach could seriously damage of an entire sector and even lead to escalation of privileges into other areas of the government.

One of the important elements to ensure your organisation thoroughly examines collaboration products is to look for a solution that provides mobility.

Our customers tell us that they want to have the ability to give partner organisations, as well as other external stakeholders or vendors, access to sensitive data.

These groups are inevitably outside of the organisations’ own secure network, and a simple email attachment could be too risky, in the end. With the right tools, it’s now possible to share important files and data securely, giving access to external partners, all whilst data remains under the governance of the IT department.

Demand for flexibility is producing practical solutions that maintain the benefits of on-premise while providing necessary functionality, usability and mobility.

Rather than just purchasing security products that are secure and compliant, the public sector needs to go beyond and confirm employee demands are central to decision making.

It’s also critical that the right decision is reached, purely because a reversal could dramatically impact the amount of money the organisation has available to operate. Retaining control of data should be a minimum requirement, however, ensuring mobility in the modern workplace is a close second.

Intelligent Information Placement

Once the needs for the organisation are determined, an analysis needs to be done to determine the value of the information and where best it should be located.

Items of critical nature to the organisation should probably be kept a little closer to home using on-premises solutions.

Those that are less sensitive can be stored in the less secure cloud environments. In many cases, it will be determined that the right solution is a hybrid approach where the systems work together providing the right security and governance for the right information, like an on-premise G-Cloud merger.

If your IT system can’t support organisational needs and functionality, staff will end up taking unnecessary risks and you’ll have wasted public money on impractical software.

It is possible to bring G-Cloud back down to earth, but it’s imperative that user experience is not hindered or the entire effort might ultimately fail.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Information Daily, its parent company or any associated businesses.

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