Without proper guidance, investing in cloud based services carries real risks. When moving more assets from legacy systems to virtualized storage or a provider's cloud, companies may need to devote extra attention to security and compliance issues. More specifically, virtualization creates a number of vulnerabilities that may be new to managers accustomed to on-premises infrastructure.

However, most companies were not built to be IT service providers, but businesses that serve customers and market products. For this reason, it makes sense for many organizations to utilize a virtual data center and other outsourced services from a provider. This way, they can move to the cloud with minimal risk, knowing that security and availability are being taken care of, and renew their focus on operations.

Most companies are not in the IT services business
The cloud can be a two-edged sword for inexperienced IT managers, offering improved application delivery alongside new security pitfalls. Writing for Computerworld, Steve Pate looked at the common challenges facing public and private clouds such as keeping data secure and watching out for insider threats, respectively.

Keeping up with the complexities of cloud security can be tough without help from a managed IT service provider. The cost and challenges of setting up virtualized infrastructure or keeping tabs on devices and data are beyond the means of many organizations. Accordingly, some of them move assets to the cloud without performing due diligence on vulnerabilities and security.

"While many companies allocate responsibility for security and data privacy to a security or compliance officer, I have certainly talked to many companies where this role has yet to receive definitive power or control over the IT organization," stated Pate. "Further, most of these companies' core business does not have to do with providing IT services."

Cloud enables security as a service
Accordingly, outsourcing infrastructure and services like the help desk can go a long way in bolstering cloud security. Moreover, it frees companies from the hassles of managing IT assets so that they can get back to business. The next wave of security solutions will require careful attention to a variety of vectors and risks, and managed services companies can provide that.

"Next-generation security platforms are those that help combine security services around cloud, data and applications," argued Data Center Knowledge's Bill Kleyman.

With help, businesses can see how the cloud can enhance, rather than detract from, security. The cloud is the target for numerous attacks and malfeasance, but solutions such as unified endpoint management and infrastructure monitoring leverage the cloud's reach to provide around-the-clock protection to hardware and software.