Protecting enterprise data in the cloud is not "straightforward" enough, according to a Symantec executive.
Ken Berryman, Symantec's senior vice-president of strategy and emerging businesses, said on Thursday in an interview with ZDNet UK's sister site ZDNet Asia that the cloud will eventually be "part of the way everybody accomplishes computing".
Moving to the cloud, he noted, is being recognised by smaller and, increasingly, large companies as a way to lower infrastructure costs. However, the cloud computing shift is complex and not an overnight endeavour.
"Moving things into the cloud today breaks most of your existing internal infrastructure… but it shouldn't," said Berryman. "The benefit of driving out costs in infrastructure will come when it's transparent to a customer, whether [it's a] physical server or virtual server or server in the cloud, or whether [it's] physical storage or virtual storage or storage in the cloud."
In reality, however, additional engineering is required to properly manage data security in a mix of physical and virtual environments, Berryman pointed out.
"In many cases, customers can't simply move a server to the cloud, because there's not a straightforward way to protect the information," he explained. "Existing tools won't allow [them] to assure compliance with policies across a cloud-based service and an on-premise service. While many of our tools provide full support for a virtual server, [when] that virtual server is outside of the internal network, it requires additional engineering to give you the same level of capability."
To fill the gap, Symantec is working to make it easier for customers to manage its existing products when a portion of their computing infrastructure is in the cloud, said Berryman.
In addition, Symantec is looking at securing information through means such as encryption "at an object level", to better assure customers that information that moves into the cloud is protected. The company is also exploring how to expand its partner-developer community by making it easier for others to build applications on top of its cloud services.
About 15 percent of Symantec's annual turnover is devoted to research and development, said Berryman. "A reasonably large fraction of that, although certainly not the majority" is channeled toward development specifically for software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud computing, he added.