ITIL Problem Management and Security: A Cloud(y) Future.
Effective problem management is an integral part of any organization’s IT service and security. By ensuring that appropriate processes are in place to identify, analyze, and respond to threats, organizations are able to amass records of problems and develop swift and effective solutions.
Tracking this information over time to identify trends—what worked, what didn’t, and why—positions IT professionals not just to react to problems as they arise, but to make that all-important leap into proactively managing service disruptions before they occur.
This improved service yields numerous benefits, such as
- Stronger security
- Increased levels of service
- Higher staff productivity
- Reductions in operating costs
- Overall improved user satisfaction
Welcome to the Cloud
Unfortunately, potential threats to these many benefits are ever-present, and worse, they’re changing. Just as technology constantly evolves, so do the accompanying service problems and strategies for dealing with them. Nowhere in today’s IT management is this more evident than in cloud computing.
Though turning over data storage to an off-site vendor can prove beneficial to clients in the form of saved space and lower energy and equipment costs, many businesses hesitate to transfer their data to this new, off-site model, due to one central concern: what threats to security and problem management might arise when data are moved off-site, and handled by unknown staff?
These threats include privileged user access, data location, data segregation, ease of investigation, and long-term viability.
Privileged User Access
Given its location off-site, data in the cloud can potentially be accessed by non-authorized personnel. When transitioning to the cloud model, IT managers should have full information concerning hiring and oversight of cloud administrators, and any established procedures for handling a breach in security.
Data in the cloud is often spread across multiple servers in numerous locations. Ideally, cloud vendors should be contractually bound to observe local privacy practices in handling data, and any failure in this regard should be incorporated into problem management planning.
Cloud vendors host a variety of clients with very different data. Clients should be fully aware of any steps—be it encryption or otherwise—that are used to keep data separate, and what tools are in place to handle any breach in data boundaries.
Ease of Investigation
Thorough cloud service providers opt for periodic, third-party security evaluations at the request of clients. Such regular tests of security are one of the most important tools in problem management—problems cannot be avoided until they are identified.
In the event a cloud service provider is acquired by a larger company, or simply goes out of business, measures should be in place to ensure data availability and minimal service disruptions.
Like any other service platform, the cloud has definite security pitfalls. Top-level cloud providers, and cloud security organizations account for these threats in service provision. However, the benefits to problem management in the cloud can be substantial
- Since it harnesses the power of multiple servers, the cloud allows for expanded data storage and processing—that means increased speed and capacity for recording, analyzing, and preventing errors.
- Top cloud vendors provide client-specific service platforms. Such tailored platforms are tightly focused on the problems and solutions unique to each client.
- The absence of on-site hardware and accompanying maintenance frees up IT staff to more fully engage with issues when they arise.
- Quality cloud providers retain teams of experts to manage accounts, with ample combined experience. Such experience and expertise equates to faster, comprehensive resolution of issues.
In the end, operating from a cloud platform has ample potential to enhance existing problem management processes, and increase overall data security.