The cloud bandwagon has passed and security isn’t a big deal after all - what I learnt at GigaOM Structure: Europe

At the GigaOM Structure: Europe cloud conference recently, Harish Rao from Capgemini told a workshop audience that cloud computing as we know it is dead.

"The loud bandwagon has passed," he declared. "We spend our time now predicting what is needed in business and finding workable solutions before problems are born."

Rao knows a thing or two about cloud as a key influencer for the Open Data Center Alliance, an organisation that drives innovation in the enterprise-ready cloud and comes up with usage models for global businesses.

Among cloud's potential future problems is one that's still around today: the issue of security and who's in charge of it. The PRISM scandal sent a ripple of fear across the globe and many US cloud providers worried about a backlash and loss in revenue. Would European cloud providers benefit from their damaged reputations?

When asked this question at the GigaOM event, Joyent co-founder Jason Hoffman said: "Reality doesn't matter when it comes to these things...I think there's a very big market opportunity for someone to capitalise on the perception of it." The perception, of course, is that cloud providers are in cahoots with governments, helping them with surveillance efforts.

A buzz phrase at the show was hybrid cloud, which provides a mix of private and public storage for businesses. Many companies and delegates believe that this new approach to cloud holds the answer to security problems. However, there are still headaches with hybrid models – such as identifying and maintaining security policies for two separate cloud environments.

The reality is that most data stored in a public cloud isn't highly sensitive or worth stealing. Also, the biggest threat to cloud security is - and will always be - the insider who's working for the company. Fear not the external hacker but the authorised administrator that can access everything.

Greg Ferro, a Network Architect and moderator at GigaOM, told an audience that a truly secure cloud doesn't exist and it might not be such a bad thing either. In fact, insecure cloud can provide some much needed global PR for struggling companies.

"If you look at breaches at major companies like Google, LinkedIn and Sony — no real harm resulted," Ferro said. "Every time Sony gets breached its share price goes up. RSA a few years ago got owned by some offshore hackers and now customers see RSA as a better provider because they got hacked."

Georgia Hanias is a director at Citigate Dewe Rogerson.