Was the DOD Embracing the Cloud a Smart Move?

When the Department of Defense (DOD) announced it was moving into 100 percent cloud technology, there was a flurry of criticism and applause alike. There will likely always be some concerns about the security of cloud technology and cloud storage. After all, there are those with Luddite leanings who don’t really understand how it works and are wary of sending their vital document “up into oblivion,” but that’s not really how it works. Reputable cloud storage is actually much more secure than any company could craft on its own, including the DOD.

The biggest concern was that, of course, that the DOD information being stored is especially precious. Just like any other type of storage, cloud technology has varying strengths and weaknesses depending on the company used. For the DOD, the choice was Amazon’s cloud technology, but a “special” technology designed and built just for government entities. As if Amazon wasn’t enough of a tech giant, the fact that it customized technology for the government means it’s even more secure than what the average Joe could attain.

It was a Wise Move

So far, there have been no catastrophes or data breaches from the DOD embracing the cloud. No news is good news, but the intricacies of just how well workers are adapting have largely been kept under wraps. There’s always a learning curve with new technology, no matter how user-friendly, especially in entities like government agencies where things have “always been done a certain way” for years. However, supporters say it was time for a change.

Moving into cloud technology can save serious money in budgets as well as boost the green standing of a department or company. Without hard copies floating around, there’s less risk of information being leaked, no risk of duplicate copies (and thus wrong information being used), and of course much less printing, which leads to resource conservation. With key personnel being able to access and/or edit documents from anywhere with Wi-Fi, it also opens up the department for more flexible schedules.

Was the Timing Right?

Even though cloud technology has been around for years, it still hasn’t been wholly accepted as “the” secure form of storage and file sharing. Technically, things can go wrong with cloud technology because those data centers can still be destroyed or hacked, even though it’s much more difficult than breaking into a government facility. There’s the risk of files damaged, lost or stolen, however slim, and potential vulnerabilities which may have not been fully explored yet.

Furthermore, there’s also the lost funds while agencies train employees on new systems and new guidelines. Figuring out who has access to what, granting permission and making sure to stop permissions the second an employee leaves the agency is crucial. Unlike when an employee is fired or removed from a position, they may have much more time to gather sensitive data in the cloud rather than scrambling for those papers when being escorted off the premises. However, these are extreme examples and haven’t been put to the test (yet).

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.