Cloud services have been the fastest growing segment of online products over the past few years. Gartner Research predicts that global spending on cloud services will reach $155 billion in 2014, and will be well over $210 billion in 2016, just two years away from now.
Many businesses have realized the value of cloud services, both with costs and productivity. Moving services such as email, storage, CRM, and PBX phone systems into the cloud has resulted in lower overall operating costs and provided an increase in employee productivity, as they can now access data from nearly any location instead of just at the office.
However, when businesses make the decision to move data offsite, some of it critical to their operations, the questions about security and availability are always raised.
Questioning cloud security is a very valid question to ask, because without that data, a company would literally be brought to a standstill. Even worse, if it were to be compromised, a company would potentially be facing huge fines, and a public relations disaster (just ask Target). Most small to medium businesses want the cost control associated with cloud services, but are wary of the risk involved when third parties maintain that data for them.
With that in mind, here are a few things to consider when reviewing your potential move to cloud services.
Free vs. Paid – Some cloud providers will offer two different versions of their services: one scaled down and provided free of charge, and another more robust version that comes with a subscription fee. It’s no secret that many free services are supported by ad revenue, and those ads are targeted to users by automated processes looking into their data. Free email service is a prime example of this. Another concern on free vs. paid is support – very often, free services come with minimal support guidelines, leaving you in a sticky situation if cannot get to your data. Subscription based services often have a more robust support structure in case you run into a problem.
Provider Location – The Internet has given us access to a global economy, and that can be both a good and a bad thing. When you use a cloud provider for your services, it’s important to find out exactly where your data is being stored. Some companies may be based in another country, where laws may not always protect your interests as much as they might if your services were based in the United States. Also, the further away your data is, the more problems and lag time you might experience when trying to access them. While that’s not necessarily a security issue, it can very much be a productivity concern.
Local Policies – Security is only as strong as the employees who are using it. Every company should have a stated, written policy when it comes to password and device security. Cloud based services can be very effective when used properly, however all it takes is one lost device that’s logged into your data provider, or one compromised password, to cause some serious damage. With data being accessible from everywhere, employees must be much more conscious of their role in keeping credentials and data safe.
Industry Policies – Some industries, particularly finance and health care, have very strict industry guidelines and policies they need to adhere to. It’s vital that businesses in those industries take the time to verify that any cloud services they use meet those guidelines. In the unfortunate event that there’s a data loss or breach, if the cloud services provider does not meet those guidelines (such as HIPAA), it very often is the business that ends up on the hook for those security issues, not the cloud services provider.
Cloud services can be used very effectively and securely – email, data backup, VoIP, productivity suites, and CRM are all tools companies can use through a third party to save money and increase productivity. Every business that’s considering cloud based services should take the time to review potential providers to make sure that the services they’re offering make the best fit for their own needs.
We’ve been offering cloud based services here at MegaNet since our company’s inception in 1996. If your business is interested in cloud services such as email or server hosting, security, Hosted PBX, or offsite data backup services, please let us know. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have about how our services can help your company. Call us at 877-634-2638, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or just click the “Request A Free Consultation” button to the upper right to contact us today!