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The Middle East’s financial sector is starting to recognise the benefits of cloud computing. Over 80% of high-level IT decision makers in the financial sector in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) acknowledge cloud computing offers significant tangible benefits, according to market analyst IDC. While, approximately 90% of them indicate they are familiar with the concept. At the same time, however, approximately 50% of survey respondents believe that cloud computing is difficult to implement. cloud question

 

Beyond a few early adopters, the IT departments of MEA financial institutions are at present exploring, or will soon be evaluating, how their organizations can benefit from cloud. Some 79% of respondents say their organizations are currently using or planning to deploy a private, public or hybrid cloud environment. About 20% indicate they have no interest in deploying any cloud environment.

 

"Although cloud has been considered by many financial institutions in the MEA region, security concerns, compliance standards and an overall lack of knowledge have slowed adoption levels," says Bijen Ramdas, senior research analyst, IDC Financial Insights Middle East, Turkey, and Africa.

"Due to the sensitivity of the data that financial institutions possess, there is a definite bias toward private and hybrid cloud technologies. Cloud adoption will accelerate in the coming years, as many financial institutions already say that cloud technology is part of their short-to-medium-term plans."

IDC believes that MEA financial institutions are likely to be reluctant to invest in cloud solutions until they have greater knowledge about and confidence in the technology. Security concerns are, at present, the greatest deterrent to adoption. As financial institutions are a very important custodian of citizens' information, inadequate security could lead to data leakage and result in potentially grave liability consequences.

When you use the cloud, you probably won't know exactly where your data is hosted. In fact, you might not even know what country it will be stored in. For this reasons most established organisations prefer to host their own application, connect their clients using VPN services and avoid cloud services altogether, the business risk is too great.

However, the cloud can now address those concerns, using virtualisation. Cloud service providers supply a virtual instance where the customer has a complete virtual server installed on shared hardware. The operating system and storage can be encrypted and firewall connections provided by the service provider control access to the server. This arrangement overcomes some of the security concerns which application hosting has.

 

  • The customer controls all software installation and configuration. The customer can decide whether to encrypt the installation volume for additional security.Customers are ultimately responsible for the security and integrity of their own data, even when it is held by a service provider.
  • Traditional service providers are subjected to external audits and security certifications. Cloud computing providers who refuse to undergo this scrutiny are "signaling that customers can only use them for the most trivial functions," according to market analyst Gartner.
  • Firewall and VPN services can be deployed to limit exposure to security vulnerabilities.
  • Virtual snapshots can be made of the running machine to restore service instantly in the event of a failure or a security problem.
  • Virtual machine instance can be load balanced across multiple sites, which scales to hundreds of connections. Get as much information as you can about the people who manage your data. Ask providers to supply specific information on the hiring and oversight of privileged administrators, and the controls over their access.
  • Additional storage, CPU and memory can be added instantly, something a physical footprint can not do.
  • Reduced support costs, in terms of hardware maintenance and tech support, software updates.


Therefore, for the reasons provided above the flexibility, ease of use and other supporting benefits, starts to outweigh the few security concerns regarding hosting corporate information offsite.

By Angela Sutherland

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