Cloud Best Practices
11 Strategic Questions for Hoteliers Considering Moving to the Cloud
By Bernard Ellis, VP Industry Strategy - Hospitality at Infor
The benefits for hoteliers of moving business applications to the cloud are numerous. Initial costs are lower because there is no need to purchase additional hardware or expand IT headcount. Systems can be deployed faster, changes can be easily made as business needs expand over time, and the long-term return on investment is higher because the technology vendor will handle potentially costly system upgrades and enhancements. Disaster recovery of data is also easier, as information is backed up in the cloud rather than on physical servers.
functionality as an on premise system supports globalization for hotels, resorts and casinos. With access via the cloud, users, partners and suppliers at locations across multiple continents can share real-time data on everything from guests to revenue. Information flows more freely and managing daily operations becomes easier as teams are able to connect from different properties and departments. This also enables better-informed decision making, as hotel managers have visibility into comprehensive data and an enterprise-wide view of how their organization is performing and operating.
Many information-critical industries, including pharmaceuticals and manufacturing, mustweigh the potential pros and cons associated with moving to the cloud. But hoteliers are in a unique position because guest satisfaction, not the delivery of a physical product to market, is the top priority. Compromised guest data including contact and credit card information would mean a serious blow to revenue for a hotel chain or casino, as guests would no longer feel that their identities were safe while staying at the property. With more ways than ever for customers to voice feedback, including social media and online rating sites, news of a security breach would travel faster than ever before.
Because of the guest's distinctive control over hoteliers' success, it is even moreimportant for companies to vet a vendor's approach to cloud security before selecting a provider for their cloud technology. Hotels own and manage the data, but it is the technology vendor's job to protect that data. Technology providers should instill confidence in customers that best-practice protocols and a thorough, continuous improvement approach will be utilized for any cloud-related projects.
However, many hoteliers are hesitant about moving to the cloud because with 24/7guest interaction, a back-end system glitch could have negative implications on customer satisfaction. Compromising guest profiles or credit card information could be disastrous, making many hospitality companies uncertain about cloud deployment. In order to ensure security when utilizing SaaS-based business applications, hoteliers should focus on vendor selection and best practices for network safety. Selecting the right technology provider who employs these practices and is transparent on how and where data will be stored is critical in minimizing any risks associated with utilizing cloud technology.
Ensuring security in the cloud is a two part endeavor. Hoteliers must take stepsinternally to safely store and transfer data, but software vendors must also take measures to assess potential threats and implement effective security controls. A detailed look at the vendor's security approach is essential to confirm that a company will be thorough and follow necessary protocols. Effective security also begins with development and the proper training of staff. It should include a multiple layer strategy, as well as physical and operational processes that support protection. Knowing what type of monitoring processes and infrastructure-related measures will be taken to minimize safety risks is essential to when running business applications in the cloud. Vendors are the direct source for each of these security measures. Hoteliers should view technology providers as a partner in facilitating data safety in the cloud, and as such should carefully examine answers to the questions above when moving to a SaaS-based system.
With security top of mind for cloud deployment, decision-makers should ask thesequestions before choosing a technology provider for their project.
1. How in-depth is your security strategy?
Make sure that the
To proactively defend against an attack, the cloud architecture should include differentlevels to protect against specific strikes like a Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack, as well as more general information attacks such as vulnerability scanning. Real- time monitoring of potential internet threats and firewalls is also crucial in order to isolate critical components and prevent access from an external network.
2. How are your products developed to enable security in the cloud?
Security parameters for each product should be established from the beginning to
3. Will the cloud network be separated from the general corporate network?
Independent networks that exist autonomously from the general corporate network provide additional security against data corruption. Solutions can also be customized to better meet specific security and performance needs when they are deployed separately from existing networks.
4. Will the network remain protected, even if users do not employ security bestpractices?
Hoteliers cannot confirm that each user at every location is running up-to-date anti-virus protection software and does not have a compromised system. Therefore, the network should be designed on rigid protocols that enforce security, even when employees do not.
5. What physical measures will be taken to protect the infrastructure?
If working with the same vendor to establish the data center, hospitality
Additionally, traffic within the network should never be broadcast using an antenna orwireless transmitter. A virtual private network should be required to protect data from interception by third parties.
6. What mandatory IT infrastructure requirements will be used to supportsecurity?
Before selecting a vendor, make sure that their strategic IT services include mandatory security requirements. These could include automated logging of security events, continuous management of backups, and administration of limited user-account permissions. Services must be built and administered in compliance with the security standards required for global data centers in order to enable the highest level of safety. Data should also be encrypted to ensure that the information of hotel guests is protected from potential threats.
7. What operational practices will be utilized to support security?
The system should provide options for tiers of user access within the network,
8. Does the vendor have staff dedicated exclusively to its cloud technology?
Check that the vendor has a specific group or business unit tasked with the implementation and deployment of cloud technology. This confirms that those working to build and launch the system have extensive experience with SaaS-based implementations and are more likely to have received extensive training on cloud security. Having a group dedicated to cloud technology also indicates that it is a priority for the vendor, and that they will actively work behind the scenes to enable the security of your data, as well as continue to develop system protection enhancements.
9. What monitoring processes will be implemented to track potential securitythreats?
At the most basic level, the system should maintain centrally managed passwords to protect administrative access points to the cloud network. The technology should also alert network management staff to unsuccessful password attempts and patterns that could potentially indicate a security breach. The system should always have the ability to authenticate the server, which ensures that all user sessions are authenticated.
Additionally, vendors should log and monitor security incidents to certify that the systemhas not been compromised. By collaborating with hoteliers to investigate intrusion attempts, vendors can become a critical ally in mitigating safety risks.
10. Is the system ISO-27001 compliant?
11. Does the vendor conduct business everywhere that you do?
While cloud technologies have taken a lot of responsibility off of the plates of
In spite of all these concerns, the hospitality industry's adoption of cloud technologieshas accelerated at a rapid clip in the past few years. The SaaS model is a great fit for the industry's fragmented ownership structure, and generally allows a larger IT investment than would have otherwise been the case. Today's growing array of options allows hotel companies to tread carefully, without having to tread lightly.
Infor builds business software for specific industries in the cloud. With 15,000 employees and over 90,000 customers in more than 170 countries and territories, Infor software is designed for progress. To learn more, please visit www.infor.com.