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    In information technology (IT) departments around the world, discussions around cloud migration and data privacy dominate the conversation. Consumers expect stronger cybersecurity measures to protect their data, while the pace of business in 2019 demands that companies adopt cloud-enabled tech stacks with more agility and open source integration.

    Meanwhile, IT pros in charge of meeting these demands are trained to expect the worst. They understand the benefits of cloud computing (e.g., seamless integration, ideal scalability, infinite compute, and significant cost savings), but they also know that the cloud, which stores user data, has been hacked before—and could be hacked again. With recently adopted legislation, like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe and the California Consumer Privacy Act in the United States, organizations face more than just angry customers in the event of a privacy breach. These new regulations levy heavy fines on companies that are unable to locate, extract, and even redact customer information on demand.

    This perception that the cloud is inherently less secure creates a Catch-22 in the minds of IT decision makers. There’s a hesitation to take sensitive data—and the software used to gather it—to an off-premises cloud.

    Fortunately, cloud computing is not a zero-sum game.

    Even if your company plans to run entirely on the cloud someday, that doesn’t have to happen this year. Many successful organizations start at a granular level, working with cloud service providers to update certain legacy processes or even offload individual components of those processes, like classifying documents. Starting small is the best way to minimize spending on staff resources and the technology itself.

    This approach also lends itself to hybrid cloud configurations, which allow IT pros to maintain control over enterprise systems via private cloud servers. Those unready (or unwilling) to store sensitive customer data on a public cloud server can still utilize public cloud microservices to gather and mine that data. In fact, hybrid cloud deployments are quite popular. Forrester's research in late 2018 revealed that 74% of organizations claimed to run a hybrid or multi-cloud setup.

    It’s easy to see why. Today, the cloud microservices marketplace is akin to the app store on your phone. In many ways, it’s the culmination of the open source software movement, which began to take off in the 1990s and has since come to redefine enterprise IT. The widespread availability and interconnectivity of cloud-powered services embody this movement's principle tenets of integration, agility, and collaboration, but most importantly, the cloud—as with other open source technology—enables technological evolution.

    Just as species have evolved to hunt and eat more efficiently, cloud-enabled environments allow companies to drill down and customize the technology stack that’s most efficient for their operations. It’s true that certain species in the animal kingdom have gotten away with evolving at a slower pace—or not evolving much at all. Still, we know that natural selection is cruel, and so is the world of business technology.

    While companies must evolve quickly, they cannot modernize so fast that they overlook privacy protections and cybersecurity protocols. Hackers are evolving simultaneously. Seventy-seven percent of malicious cyberattacks in 2017 were fileless. It’s imperative that your organization’s IT leaders speak regularly with cloud service providers to ensure both your public and private clouds are properly secured.

    Even with this rising risk of cloud-savvy hackers, the question isn’t "to cloud or not to cloud?" For almost all enterprises, there will be some cloud. IDC predicts that 2020 will be the first year that total cloud spending (private and public) will account for more than half of the enterprise spend on data storage infrastructure. Projections for 2021 see the cloud becoming even more ubiquitous.

    Like the hardcore software developers and Linux geeks who knew their open source movement would ultimately foster the best product possible, cloud purveyors see the cloud as the next frontier for business opportunity. There are always risks, but without risk, evolution becomes stagnation—and stagnation becomes extinction.

    Ike Kavas is the Founder and CEO of Ephesoft, Inc., with 20 years of document capture, document management, workflow, and systems engineer experience. A self-described techie and serial entrepreneur, Ike has become an expert in the document capture industry and the founder of three successful ventures. For more information on Ephesoft, visit ephesoft.com or follow him on Twitter @IkeKavas.
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