Security vs. Control: Airplanes, the Cloud and Office 365

By - April 29, 2015

So, I had time to write this on an airplane
American tonight, and it was fundamentally uncomfortable.  It was hot, crowded, a stranger’s elbow is in my ribs, and everyone just wants to get home.  It reminded me of how my own, and many people’s, fear of flying originates from a lack of control over one’s environment. Empirically, flying is far safer, mile for mile, than driving your car, but the lack of control inherent in commercial aviation tends to make passengers very, very uncomfortable (in addition, of course, to being rammed into the coach cabin like a sardine in a can).

(Photo credit:  Flickr user LoadedAaron, licensed under Creative Commons license)

This, of course, reminds me of many conversations we have had with clients about deploying solutions in the cloud, specifically, Microsoft’s Office 365. Frequently, we hear emphatic objections or concerns about security. Is my data secure in Microsoft’s cloud, and applications, and data centers?

The short answer is yes, your data is very secure. No data center is impenetrable and no security perfect, but Microsoft has invested enormous amounts of resources in building secure data centers and securing enterprise-class platforms and applications, and they have gotten very good at providing secure cloud-based applications at massive scale. For a great summary of what Microsoft is doing about security in the cloud, I recommend spending some time on Microsoft’s Trust Center.

So, maybe the issue isn’t about security, maybe it’s about control.

What control can we have over our data hosted at Microsoft? Can we see it and touch it and extricate it when we need it, or if we want to end our Office 365 subscription?

Yes, there are lots of tools available to help you do all of these things. Read your terms of use and FAQs for Office 365. You have less control over an Office 365 (i.e. public cloud, multi-tenant) environment than you would over your own data center, but you probably have more security unless you’re better at Microsoft at operating secure data centers.

So…back to the airplane. My flight will be landing soon, and I can’t help but think that I would have a lot more control over my flight if I were piloting the plane, but that I’m more secure in the hands of a trained pilot who lands 737s every day.

P.S. A big thank you to the pilots who get us safely to where we need to be.

To find out more about this or other ways that RSM can assist you with your SharePoint needs, contact McGladrey’s technology consulting professionals at 800.274.3978 or email us.

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