The cloud is sometimes painted out to be a mysterious technology, but it’s really no different than Wi-Fi. When Wi-Fi was first implemented, businesses worried that data would be free for hijacking and that customer data would be insecure. These organizations figured out ways to protect their networks, like password protection and antivirus software, as time went on.
New standards like the Health Access and Protection Act may force companies to adopt these standards with regulations to keep data safe. Any plan to adopt the cloud needs to take a serious look at security holes in a network and look at methods for dealing with those issues. Security holes also extend to data accessibility, where a user’s inability to find something is just as crippling as a viral outbreak.
The location of your data is extremely important, as it determines your ability to access it. If your server is located in Africa, and your business in America, you will have difficulties accessing your data reliably and at speeds that are workable. One of the biggest advantages the cloud can offer is a team dedicated to preserving your data. Seek out cloud service providers that are in your same region, and ask your sales people about the location of your servers. Call in after your account is activated and confirm the location of your data.
Encryption masks the communications you make with the server, so any data exchanged at that time is invisible to third parties. Or so the theory goes. The truth is that no form of security is perfect (some of the largest companies in the world have been hit by hackers). This is why the big players in internet and cyber security like Trend Micro (trendmicro.com) have started racing to offer private cloud security. Private cloud security, arguably, can offer more benefits to a business than in-house staff. Private sessions can connect users to their data without fear of intrusion. It’s also easy to monitor access points and see who is looking at your data.
The cloud is only useful to you if you can access the data it contains. Almost every cloud provider you speak with will promise a 99% up-time guarantee, but measuring that up-time is no less important. Every second your site goes down compounds the potential for missed sales. Ask your cloud provider what tools they provide to manage access to your servers and review bandwidth statistics.
Accessibility is another issue that tends to get glossed over, but how your company interacts with the data you store is important. If your employees need training on new software or staffing must be hired to deal with the workload of implementation, that must be accounted for. Think of accessibility in three broad terms:
· Speed: how fast is data transferred?
· Usability: does the system require extensive training?
· Reliability: is data accessible when you need it?
Who owns data has become a hot topic with organizations like the MPAA battling piracy in courts. It’s also easy for inexperienced companies to make mistakes in attribution, where sources cited are either incorrect or not present at all. The issue of ownership will only become a more hotly contested topic as time goes on, and those who expect to leverage cloud computing must go to lengths ensuring data ownership.
Before you choose a cloud provider, be sure that you have the ability to make adjustments to your contract as you move forward. This will ensure you can scale your business, while maintaining an appropriate level of service.