As cloud vendors mature, Web-based delivery of applications, storage and infrastructure is getting more secure and trustworthy. That doesn't mean that the risks are gone–they've just migrated to a more difficult-to-manage form. Today, big-name cloud providers like offer top-notch security, auditability and compliance. Even Google provides a compliant e-mail hosting solution for regulated industries such as healthcare and finance. Providers can now meet corporate needs, experts say, as long as companies do their security due diligence and pay attention to contract fine print.

In 2005, Atlanta-based Cox Communications began using BlackLine Systems' hosted services to replace its manual financial close process based on spreadsheets. Now, the $9 billion cable operator is moving to a cloud-based version of the same system, BlackLine's OnDemand offering.

What worried Cox about moving from dedicated, hosted servers to the cloud environment? "We have a security team that specifically deals with these reviews, and it's a long and rigorous process," says Tammie Coley, executive director of enterprise accounting and financial systems at Cox. "The BlackLine application meets our specifications." Coley adds that she was further reassured by BlackLine's SAS 70 Type II security audit.

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