Do the clouds have holes?
There is new technology on the scene, and – as I write this – I’m at the Australian Partner Conference for Microsoft on the Gold Coast in Queensland, hearing the concerns of the drivers of technology in our local business community.
By “drivers” I mean the IT people who partner with Microsoft to bring new technology to market. Interestingly, the question I’m hearing most from these tech gurus is, “Will our data be safe in the cloud?”
So, are the cloud services secure or are there holes?
My answer to this is to look at what we have today, and to compare the security levels. I say this because there is no such thing as a perfectly secure system. Ultimately, security comes from live monitoring and dynamic response to threats. The security is only as good as the reaction to each threat.
In small business, we don’t have the resources to provide dynamic response and so security is a flawed area in our businesses. We have our data on in-house servers that sit in physically accessible places behind firewalls that are lucky to get a patch update, let alone ongoing management or monitoring. This places our data at risk immediately.
By comparison, a quality provider of cloud-based applications such as Microsoft has global systems secured by teams of security experts on a dynamic basis. There is no physical access to the server, and the server sits behind an array of firewalls that are dynamically managed.
The cloud-based offering also has built-in redundancy with synchronisation between multiple data centers. This removes the risk we all take in small business of having our local servers fail, which then puts us out of action. By physically removing the infrastructure to the cloud servers we remove these risk factors.
Despite this, there are still holes, and the following risks need to be considered:
- How big is the cloud provider and how robust are their services?
- What happens when your internet connection fails?
- Can you manage your accounts and services?
- What will it cost over the long-term? Will in-house be cheaper?
My response is that you need to select your suppliers carefully, and make sure you’re using the right tools. You can fortify your connections with low-cost solutions. Make sure you or your support team can use portals to manage your accounts and services.
The solutions are now reaching a price point where there are real savings moving costs from capital expenditure to operational expenditure, which is an added bonus.
So, in short, it’s time to reduce risks by moving to cloud solutions, but sticking to large-scale providers. Do ask for trials, and do select business partners who have worked with the technology for awhile. Read their case studies.
This technology is ready to remove impediments to growth in your business. Regardless of whether you have two or 2,000 staff, some of these solutions will work for you. So, start asking questions now!
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David Markus is the founder of Combo - the IT services company that ensures IT is never an impediment to growth.