If you have ever had a debate about whether your organisation should use cloud computing then a discussion of the risks of cloud computing will have been a significant part of it. In doing so, we often fall into a simple logical trap.
Cloud computing is just one of the options that we have. The problem is that the risks of cloud computing are often discussed without looking at the risks of the alternatives. Even worse, the risks of cloud computing are also usually discussed without weighing them up against the very real benefits that cloud computing can also offer. This gives a very distorted view of the cloud, and usually makes it look much worse than it really is.
When we discuss the risks of cloud computing in isolation another factor comes into play: A bare statement of the risks involved in any use of a cloud service can look pretty scary – but this ignores the fact that the risks involved in using any ICT solution look pretty scary!
Those people who are arguing against the cloud sometimes try a different tactic, making an unrealistic comparison of the risks. Cloud computing risks can look poor when they are compared to the risks of using a perfectly managed internal or on-premise solution. But real on-premise solutions are never run perfectly, and are often run very poorly (especially from a security perspective).
To get a real view of what the risks of going to the cloud are in any particular situation, you need to compare the risk profile with that of the realistic alternatives. The proper way to combat the FUD factor of only looking at the risks of cloud computing is to insist that they are compared to the realistic alternative of the risks run everyday by your on-premise IT systems while weighed against the possible benefits that you might get from the cloud. This is the only way to achieve a balanced conversation, and hopefully make the right decision.