No doubt about it: The interest in cloud computing is continuing to grow. As the market expands, IT professionals across the board are working day and night to minimize potential security threats associated with the technology. Going into the new year, there are a few points SMBs should consider before partnering with IT professionals on the cloud.

Many are concerned with cloud security, including IT professionals

A Kaspersky Lab report in October 2018 revealed what chief information security officers (CISOs) consider to be today’s top IT security risks: Cloud computing and uncontrolled cloud expansion by line of business (LOB) applications (i.e., software designed to help businesses operate) topped the list. The results of another survey found that 90% of cybersecurity professionals are concerned with cloud security. Specifically, when it comes to cloud computing, respondents cited three top security challenges: protecting against data loss and leakage, threats to data privacy and breaches of confidentiality.

Going into 2019, cybersecurity professionals aren’t the only ones concerned with security in the cloud, especially with regard to one area specifically — confidentiality. For example, in November 2018, the American Bar Association (ABA) released the findings of a survey it conducted of solo and small firm attorneys across the country. The report revealed the following statistic: Out of survey respondents who use cloud-based services, 63 percent considered confidentiality and security to be the biggest concerns.

Private, public and hybrid — not all cloud environments are created equal

IT security decision-makers also believe cloud-based IT environments complicate the development of cybersecurity strategies by potentially opening organizations up to new vulnerabilities throughout internal and external infrastructures across the board. Conducted by OnePoll and commissioned by Citrix, a poll of 750 IT security decision-makers in companies with 250 or more employees across the United Kingdom revealed this: While nearly 65 percent of the respondents said a multi-cloud environment adds further complications when developing cybersecurity strategies, 60 percent of respondents felt the same way about hybrid cloud computing; however, one cloud environment stood out from the rest — and not in a good way, despite ongoing growth.

Which IT environment are IT security decision-makers most concerned with when developing cybersecurity strategies? Sixty-seven percent of OnePoll’s survey’s respondents cited public cloud (e.g., Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform). Despite public cloud being a top concern for IT decision makers, the market for public cloud is continuing to thrive. A recently published September 2018 report by Gartner revealed that the public cloud services market is expected to grow 17.3 percent in 2019 to total $206.2 billion. In the market, infrastructure as a service (IaaS) — the fastest-growing segment — is expected to hit $39.5 billion next year, according to the IT research firm.

Cloud architects are on the rise

The IT job market will continue to change as more and more businesses turn to the cloud. For example, cloud architects are now on the rise, according to a report published by RightScale. The study found that in 2018, 61 percent of architects considered themselves to be cloud architects, an increase from 56 percent in 2017. The percentage of architects identifying as IT architects decreased to 31 percent in 2018 from 35 percent in 2017. The fact cloud architects are on the rise is good news for SMBs; it means there are more and more IT professionals willing to dedicate themselves to the cloud.

While more and more businesses are implementing cloud-based services, individuals inside and outside of the IT community continue to raise security concerns with the various cloud computing technologies. Consider the above points before jumping directly into a deal with a cloud services provider (CSP) or an IT provider in 2019.