Cloud computing remains one of the most widely discussed and hotly demanded technologies in history, and the spread of these services around the globe and across industries has been impressive to say the least. With companies working to become as efficient, centralized, modernized and digitized as possible, it only makes sense that the cloud is making its way into virtually every office, as it comes with significant advantages to operational performance.

First, Software-as-a-Service burst on to the scene, with many organizations replacing some of the less-sensitive but still core functions that they need to communicate with this cloud technology, including file sharing and email. Then, Platform-as-a-Service started to become more popular, as businesses demanded a way to create and host apps that would be more affordable than the traditional system deployments that would have been in place.

Finally, Infrastructure-as-a-Service - which has become increasingly converged with PaaS - started to make waves among a variety of industries and sectors because it can reduce the amount of upfront costs necessary to have the most advanced equipment around. Now, all three of these cloud services are becoming more converged, as organizations work to completely overhaul their IT frameworks.

Time to get to the elephant in the room - cloud security has been a big question mark for many decision-makers. Although the rate of businesses that are entirely averse to migrating sensitive data to the cloud has reduced recently, fears and concerns about security - many of which are the product of myths - are still alive and well in the United States and abroad, and it is about time to better understand what the story actually entails.

Right off the bat, leaders should remember that the use of email encryption, data center protection and secure cloud services can quickly mitigate the real threats that abound, and that these environments are just as safe as any others before them.

First, evidence of growth
Network World recently reported that a new study from ESG Research revealed nearly three-quarters of firms surveyed are getting ready to spend a higher dollar amount on cloud computing in 2014 than they did in 2013. For a little breakdown, the source pointed out that 33 percent are already using IaaS, a little more than a quarter have deployed PaaS and nearly three-quarters are using SaaS.

With respect to the risks that companies believe need to be addressed and mitigated in these technologies, IT professionals were most focused upon access controls, privacy concerns and a lack of efficient and accurate visibility of operations. All of these matters can be fixed relatively easily and swiftly as long as the firm is leveraging the most reliable and effective solutions available.

Analysts from Gartner and International Data Corporation, among others, have already called for the complete ubiquity of cloud services in the public and private sectors within the next decade and a half or so. Reports like this further indicate that the cloud is spreading with no signs of slowing down any time soon. As the cloud becomes more common in the private sector, though, relevant security spending has shot up.

Investing in protection
PC World recently reported that a new study from Gartner projected IT security spending to reach $71 billion globally in 2014, just under 8 percent higher than in 2013. Data breaches and other events have certainly led to the increased demand and provisioning of security controls, while advanced technologies entering the corporate arena - such as mobile devices and cloud computing - are further bolstering expenditures.

According to the news provider, Gartner also forecast 10 percent of IT security investments to be cloud-based solutions delivered as hosted services by the end of next year. Simply put, momentum is growing in both the raw cloud industry and the relevant security solutions markets that support protected and safe use of these technologies by all companies, households and government agencies.

Now, with all of this in mind, it is important to remember that cloud security can be just as effective as traditional systems of protection - and, in some ways, even more so. For example, if a company were using older frameworks to manage mobility and other advanced trends in corporate computing, it would not be able to centralize monitoring and security enforcement across the board in the way that the cloud can.

At the end of the day, it will be the attention to detail, diligence of planning and accuracy of enforcement that truly defines how secure cloud services are for each given business - not necessarily the technology itself.

By working with a trusted, compliant and reliable provider of secure data center services and other protective solutions, the sky is the limit for cloud-based performance improvement.