More businesses have been making the most of cloud solutions and enjoying the competitive edge that comes with it. The great thing about cloud computing is that is can be tweaked and altered almost constantly to quickly meet the changes in an organization, positioning itself as a powerful tool for flexibility and scalability. So what exactly can the cloud do for you and your business?
Not surprisingly, there are still lots of businesses that are unsure about the cloud model. As with most things (technology in particular), you would be hard pressed to find a ‘one-size-fits-all’ model. While the immediate benefits of cloud computing seem pretty straightforward, it needs a little know-how and digging to outsource your IT and find the right solution for your needs. Which is the right approach? How do you choose an appropriate cloud strategy for your IT needs? Which is better, public or private?
The first thing to know about the Cloud is that you have two options to store your data: a public cloud or a private cloud.
Also known as an enterprise or internal cloud, a private cloud is built exclusively for your business. Private clouds also rely on a company’s intranet or hosted center, meaning that your data is protected by a firewall. It provides all the efficiency of a public cloud but with a greater focus on control of management and security. Larger companies or those with strictly confidential data and regulation tend to opt for a private cloud for this reason. However, for some, having the sole responsibility of management and DIY network maintenance might be a drawback. So although a private cloud offers a considerably higher amount of security, replacing servers and dealing with other maintenance tasks can become costly and time-consuming.
Public clouds offer the same efficiency as private clouds but the main difference is that as a company, you’re not responsible for the management and maintenance of the cloud host. Your cloud provider deals with this, so many companies favor using a public cloud as it takes the stress and time away from testing and deploying new products. Unlike a private cloud, you don’t control the security in this case, a factor which repels some users. But although a public cloud may not share the same stringency as private clouds, data is still kept completely separate from others and it’s rare to see security breaches with public cloud services.
So how do you find the right cloud solution for your business?
Develop a project plan
The first step you should take is figuring who will be involved with what. Do you already know who will be responsible for migrating your data to the cloud? How long do you think the project will take? Who will be involved in the decision making process?
Cross reference with your data
Finding the right cloud solution for your business means knowing exactly what kinds of files you need to store. Separate your data. For example, if you have overly sensitive data such as financial or health records, you might instantly find that it narrows down the possible solutions, as you would need to prioritize security.
Be clear on cloud compliance
Moving to a cloud solution means you need to keep a close eye on how and where your data is stored so that you can stay compliant with federal law and industry regulation. Deciding what to store in-house and what to store on a cloud means that you need to ask the questions before legal asks you. Where is your data going to live? Who is looking after it? Who will be able to see and access it? Is the cloud segregated from other people’s data?
Look at your security features
Do some research into the levels of security measures each cloud provider takes to protect your data. A good cloud solution employs data security experts, professionally trained to scope out any high-level cyber threats in real time. Security with a good cloud provider should be predictable and will identify and analyze potential attacks. The most important thing you can do to ensure your data’s security is to make sure your provider offers this as well as multi-factor authentification so you easily access it when you need it via an IP address, device or user.
Know how users will need to access files
Before choosing a cloud solution, think about how your staff will need to access any files. Most providers will offer some kind of way for users to access the stored data through their computers. To do this, you’ll need to sync a copy of the entire file structure onto your device, which can take up a huge amount of space and become impractical. Find out what the provider offers in terms of accessing your files.
How will your data be backed up?
Make sure the cloud you decide on has a redundant system so that there is always a backup of your files in the unlikely event of a system failure or unforeseen downtime with the cloud company. Having a solid data back up is a crucial aspect of your business. Be sure to be very clear on the disaster recovery plan that the company is offering. Be sure to also find out if they support file revisions in case you need to revisit an earlier version of a file.