Amazon Web Services has taken a much-anticipated position and finally applied to join the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), a major cloud computing industry organization that promotes transparency and security. Amazon's application to join the STAR (Security, Trust, and Assurance Registry) means that SMB consumers will be able to learn more about the IT security inherent to the Infrastructure as a Service system provided by Amazon.
The STAR program has been existence for nearly a year. Its stated goal is to provide business users critical ways to determine what security features are included in the cloud solutions being offered by various companies. According to industry analysts, however, the CSA's STAR program has had some difficulties gaining buy-in from cloud service providers. Six months into the initiative, only three cloud computing providers had made the effort to subject themselves to STAR scrutiny. The first of these was Azure, a Microsoft cloud services product, which joined the STAR program last April. The idea is slowly spreading among providers, however; there are now more than 10 STAR participants, among them Box.com and Terremark in addition to Amazon Web Services.
What the CSA Provides for Small Businesses
All cloud services providers seeking to join the STAR program must provide answers to a comprehensive questionnaire containing nearly 200 different questions. Amazon Web Services has released a white paper totaling 42 pages in answer to this questionnaire. Small business owners and managers who read this white paper will be able to obtain information about the certifications possessed by Amazon Web Services; these emanate from a variety of groups including the Payment Card Industry and the ISO, or International Standards Organization.
For many small businesses, however, interpreting such a document can be a potent challenge in and of itself. Many owners and managers do not have the specialized skills needed to make good sense of highly technical specifications. This is one reason why so many small businesses decide to work with an IT consulting firm when they decide to test out cloud computing waters. An IT consultant experienced in assisting small businesses can help guide SMBs to a good understanding of whether Amazon Web Services would be a good match for their needs.
In some cases, small businesses may be better off obtaining their cloud solutions from a local IT company that can offer them much more personalized guidance and support. For excellent IT support, Philadelphia companies may want to consider iCorps.