by Mielle Sullivan, Janus Networks

When you think of cloud computing you probably think of millions of devices, many of them wireless, communicating and spreading information around the globe. If you are more pictorially minded, you might think of a huge cloud of information that can be accessed from anywhere. Both images bring to mind the mystery and danger associated with cloud computing. Where is all the data, exactly? Who has access? But, some experts say the cloud can be safely used for even the most secret of information.

A few of these experts have formed the Cloud Security Alliance, a new non-profit organization that promotes best practices and security assurance within cloud computing. Paul Kutz, founding member of CSA, says the cloud is already being used by large enterprises for mission-critical tasks. Kurtz, who has been consulted on information and infrastructure security by both Bush and Obama, says the cloud is even ready for the security needs of the federal government. “The real question,” he noted, “is whether the federal government is ready for cloud computing.”

Kutz argues there are certain security benefits from using the cloud, such as faster software updates and, under some circumstances, multifactor authentication. These and other features have convinced top-level security experts of the cloud’s viability. Defense Information Systems Agency, a defense contractor, even supports the formation of a single entity to provide computing services to all of the federal government. Federal CIO, Vivek Kundra, is also a vocal advocate of the cloud.

While not all questions in areas like data retrieval and identity management have been answered, there is reason to believe that the CSA will help speed along solutions. Even as the technology matures, with the help of some expertise, many small businesses may find better efficiency safely in the cloud.

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