Despite running a successful trial of Microsoft Azure earlier this year, Computershare chief information officer Stuart Irving still has reservations over data security.
(Surveillance camera image by
Mike Fleming, CC BY-SA 2.0)
"It went fairly well," he said of the pilot. "We architected the application slightly so that it could work in the cloud. We re-engineered some of our apps to be more cloud appealing and it was a success. We could scale up and down at a fraction of the cost," Irving said.
"My concerns in the cloud centre around security and a little term called 'data patriation', which is the need to keep local data in several, local private clouds," Irving said.
He added that customer data that originated in the UK needs to be kept in a European Union datacentre as per the Data Protection Act, for example.
As a result of the company's global operations, Computershare is required to keep data within national boundaries, making the process of consolidating multiple datacentres into the one large cloud almost impossible.
"We run regional datacentres as it stands, and the appeal to collapse that into two or three mega datacentres using the cloud is [high], but the privacy rules of data patriation means you have to think again ... which is a little bit frustrating."
Even if it were legal to store data across country borders, Irving's concerns around the cloud would not be assuaged.
"When you outsource [data] into a public cloud, [security is] no longer in your control. When it's an internal cloud, you can attest to the [security], but when it's in a cold, dark datacentre somewhere, you have to take on due diligence yourself," Irving said.
"Our customers are public companies who like to know that we have certain standards on who gets to see and access data, whether things are encrypted or unencrypted and if we've deployed technology in Computershare to prevent data leakage.
"There's still a long way to go before I would commit a lot of our applications to [a cloud] environment," he said.
"We're still looking at a way for Computershare to best harness the cloud. We trial to make sure we're comfortable with the secured, regional private cloud but still have the ability to ramp up and ramp down when we need to."
Irving has assumed the role of global CIO for Computershare after group information technology director, Penny Maclagan, stepped back into a non-executive director role mid-last month.