January 19, 2012
serviceGuaranteeWhen it comes to cloud computing data center audits, everyone seems to be jumping on the SSAE 16 bandwagon. Indeed, SSAE 16 is a relatively new audit standard that essentially replaces the aging SAS 70 standard. Scan the market and you’ll find numerous cloud computing companies and cloud services providers announcing SSAE 16 compliance since January 1, 2012. The big question: Will SSAE 16 really give customers peace of mind as they evaluate cloud data center partners?
Companies that have made SSAE 16 compliance announcements so far in January 2012 include:
ePlus Inc., an IT service provider that has close relationships with HP, Cisco, VMware, NetApp, Microsoft, Symantec, IBM and Lenovo.
KineticD, which offers cloud backup and disaster recovery services for small and midsized businesses (SMBs).
Open Access Technology International Inc. (OATI), which develops smart grid solutions for the energy industry.
ViaWest, one of the largest privately-held data center, cloud and managed services providers in North America.
Windstream Hosted Solutions, which said more than a dozen of its U.S. data centers comply with SSAE 16.
Potential SSAE 16 Benefits
Generally speaking, SSAE 16 audits cover a lengthy list of requirements. But the SSAE 16 Resource Center points to five key benefits of an audit, noting that SSAE 16 ensures data centers have:
sufficient data and power redundancy;
appropriate physical security (security guards, biometric scanning, video cameras, etc.);
monitors for excessive temperature fluctuations;
timely alert tracking and reviews; and
proper fire and water detection (and protection) systems.
SSAE 16 Problems and Limitations?
That list above sounds very promising. But SSAE 16 audits have their share of critics. In a recent editorial, Online Tech COO and President Mike Klein pointed out a range of potential problems with SSAE 16, alleging that the standard has set back the audit industry by 20 years. Klein’s company focuses on colocation services, managed services and private cloud services.
I can’t endorse or refute the value of SSAE 16 audits, since I have no direct experience with the audits. But I will say this: A growing list of data center providers are jumping on the SSAE 16 audit bandwagon. End-customers could be the long-term winners. But the biggest short-term winners are the folks performing all the audits.
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