The Boon and Bane of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is proving to be an evolving technology of data storage. In fact, while many large companies would decide against availing them at present, a lot of small to medium scale businesses are doing so because the cost is relatively affordable (paid by the month and by the user, so no need to shell out a large amounts of cash all at once) compared to the benefit of security; knowing that your data won’t clog up your computer or company server which might cause a possible crash (or worse, reformatting). That alone saves a good deal of one’s sanity.
To cite an example, Doug Menefee, the company’s chief information officer of Schumacher Group’s multimillion-dollar data center in Louisiana, turned to the cloud computing after the hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. He was only so thankful that the center had not gone down or managing the staffing of emergency room physicians would be an impossibly daunting task.
But what is really in cloud computing for you? Here is your list of considerations before you plunge all the way down to the cloud.
Data access. Educate yourself as to who will see your data. Some data can be very sensitive and if accessed and used improperly by unauthorized people, might cause more discomfort than ease. In addition, some trades (such as the health care industry) have privacy regulations which might render cloud computing inappropriate.
Payment concerns. It is a good rule of thumb to set clear expectations. One might need to ask what happens to the data if there is a missed payment. This is something crucial that needs to agreed upon and written in black and white.
Backing up. Seeing that the technology is still new, it is recommended to inquire if they back up your data in case their own system backfires. A usual contract stipulates that the data owner is solely accountable for data backup, protection, and even security.
Consider the possibility of your cloud entering the same business as yours. By entrusting them with your data, you are almost inevitably selling your own wares to them and inviting your own competitor.
Think ahead if you’re doing business abroad. You may have opted for a cloud that is based offshore. Consider the probability of your data being searched under certain circumstances. For example, if your cloud is situated in US, your data may be subjected to the USA Patriot Act searches.
Expectations. Expectations. Expectations. Discrimination of any form might not allow you to store your data at Amazon and infringe copyrights might rule out Google. How about access controls such as passwords? Does your cloud charge for freeing up advertisements in your employees’ emails? In the event you are unhappy with the cloud’s service, how do you terminate their services and at what costs?
Once all these are considered, follow the three fundamental principles that can save you lots of headaches in the future.
Triage, or keep a very close eye and tight fist on anything (be it data or something else) that will render your business paralyzed if lost or copied.
Secure, or take advantage of the tools available in the software to encrypt and hide information which are ultra-sensitive. Educate yourself and the other users. It might save your life.
Backup; this is the most basic of all. It never hurts to cover your bases by having updated backup copies of everything your cloud has. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound cure as they say.