When considering adopting public cloud many a times companies are concerned about security, privacy and regulatory requirements. To address these concerns, at Dreamforce this year Salesforce announced Data Residency Option (DRO) where the customer retains ownership of sensitive data. DRO is a cloud gateway that protects customer data by encrypting or tokenizing sensitive data according to customizable policies before it is transmitted to Salesforce.
The DRO technology also known as Virtual Private SaaS (VPS) was developed by Navajo Systems which was acquired by Salesforce in Auguest 2011. Navajo was founded in 2009 by Dan Gross, Dr. David Movshovitz, Doron Abram, Ofer Shochet and Eitan Bauch and incubated in the JVP Media Labs Incubator in Israel.
How its done?
In case of encryption, data deemed sensitive is encrypted prior to transmission and encryption keys are stored locally and managed by the customers themselves. This protects against the risk of a 3rd party gaining unauthorized access to the data. When authorized users request the data from Salesforce, VPS reverses the process and presents a readable version of the data to the user.
In case of tokenization, sensitive data is substituted with randomly generated values prior to being stored in the Salesforce cloud. The mapping between the original data and tokens is stored in a secure database on premise. While tokenization adds the overhead of managing and securing a database, this satisfies residency requirements because the actual data doesnt leave the organization. Furthermore tokenized values cant be deciphered without access to the secure database. When users access Salesforce, VPS replaces all tokens contained within Salesforce’s responses to the user with their corresponding actual values.
VPS can reside on the premise, within a customer’s firewall and also be deployed in the cloud by Salesforce itself. In this case Salesforce users within a particular region use VPS without having to install or maintain it in their own networks. Here customers primary concern is data residency within a region, rather than privacy.
A similar technology is available from CipherCloud Customers interested in other cloud providers such as Amazon AWS, Box.net can user CipherCloud to protect their sensitive data while enjoying the benefits of public cloud.
The concept that Navajo or CipherCloud have implement is simple, yet very powerful because it addresses the key concern of security that companies have when adopting public cloud. I belive that all SaaS vendors should provide this option to help customers cross the bridge over to public clouds.