Cloud computing is definitely the way everyone seems to be heading. Google has long pushed for it and now with the launch of Chrome OS; it has made it clear that local computing is a thing of past. People who upload photos through the Internet to small and medium business enterprises (SMBs) are appreciating the ease and comfort of accessing data from anywhere. The advantages of cloud computing seem to be too compelling for anyone to notice the threats this new technology could be facing.

In simple terms cloud computing refers to saving data on a server hosted by someone else so that it can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. This may just increase the comfort for an average user but for businesses it means a lot of saved funds. Data storage and maintenance constitutes a relatively big expenditure for many businesses. All this can be avoided thanks to cloud computing. There may be other reasons for businesses to embrace this new technology among which security definitely does not feature.

In cloud computing, once the data is uploaded there is no way of verifying who is accessing your data or what use it is put to. The lack of control is a serious concern for many CEOs. Another concern is the security features employed by the cloud or the lack of it. In these days where any anti-virus software is forced to update by the day there cannot be enough guarantee that your data is adequately protected. Thus shifting to cloud may require loads of trust in the service provider. One way to ensure security is to make the right choice as to who you are going to trust your data with. Choosing a highly reputed service provider like Google Docs or Flickr may be good decision though it brings out an altogether different problem.

A server crash or failure may put your data out of reach temporarily or in the worst case scenario may even result in total loss of data. This was highlighted when Magnolia, an online bookmarking site, had a complete database crash. This resulted in loss of data of thousands of users. Imagine this happening to a service which provides more than just bookmarking but also sensitive data storage. A company’s fate could change overnight if such a tragedy ever happened. The only safety measure that can be taken against such a disaster is to backup all the data on another service provider or on local drives which would then be counterproductive. However, that would only double the costs.

Even the storage architecture of the cloud providers is not foolproof. Virtualization software is used to store the data of different user on the same server. Though this strategy involves greater cost cutting for a businesses, it cannot however be termed foolproof. Computing errors may result in request conflicts resulting in the leakage of data.

And finally there is the omnipresent threat of hackers. A single inroad into a cloud server may give out data worth millions. In the wake of recent incidents of Google’s mail server being hacked in China, it has become evident that foolproof security cannot be guaranteed to anyone.

Cloud computing is a relatively very new and as with any new technology the hurdles are just waiting to show up. Cloud companies are putting in a lot to make this technology safe and secure. Will it become successful or will it be buried under its problems? It has to be seen yet.