Where is your Data?

In our previous post, we discussed the impact that mobile workforce trends are having on IT department strategy when it comes to keeping corporate data safe. While we presented four options to keep corporate data safe, another very popular solution is to store data on the cloud (a.k.a the Internet).

With employee demand for data accessibility and increasing use of personal cloud storage services, such as Dropbox, businesses can put themselves at risk if an employee houses corporate data on a personal account. All of that information could be lost if/when the employee leaves. As companies recognize and respond to this risk, the enterprise cloud storage market is exploding and expected to surpass $56 billion by 2019 according to MarketsandMarkets. Two of the biggest players in this field are Box and Dropbox Business, which more recently added an enterprise storage option. Other top providers include SparkleShare and ownCloud.

BENEFITS OF THE CLOUD

The corporate shift to the cloud carries with it many benefits. First and foremost, convenience. At a personal level, these service make life easy and simple but we find an increasing number of businesses storing their company information in personal storage accounts.

From an enterprise perspective, these services always ensure that users are working on the most up-to-date version of a document and offer support for a variety of platforms. The company also doesn’t have to support its own document management systems or incur the costs associated with planning, administration, or equipment.

Second, cost savings. Cloud storage can be lest costly than traditional data backup methods, although it’s important not to compare providers purely based on cost. More often than not, very low-cost plans typically compromise on certain security features, which are of the utmost importance at the enterprise level. The cost of finding a great service provider will still be justified over time.

But what kind of implications does this have on data accessibility?

CAUTIONS WHEN CONSIDERING THE CLOUD

In their rush to migrate their data from computers and servers to cloud-based services, IT Departments and CIOs must be sure they stop and ask themselves, “Where does my data reside?” While cloud storage services make access to data seamless and fast, you must understand the risks: data control/accessibility and security.

Perhaps most importantly, security is crucial for highly sensitive data. Most online storage services offer some level of security to their individual users, but basic encryption services might not be reliable enough for a business’ sensitive data. Additionally, enterprise data is stored in a remote data center that no one in your IT department (or anyone else in your organization, for that matter) can access. It is therefore critical to identify a cloud storage provider that fulfills your security requirements for these data. Examples include double encryption, secured login access, authentication checks, and the ability to immediately recover data should there be any kind of disaster or server failure.

In terms of accessibility, while personal data stored in the cloud can be easily accessed at any time, enterprises may need to control access to data – not every employee should necessarily have access to all data (e.g., sensitive data). Therefore, ownership of the data and control over the accessibility to that data is of paramount importance for enterprises – this is a feature provided by all of the enterprise storage services we mentioned above, but not individual ones. As an example, Box provides seven levels of access control, which address access, preview, editing, and sharing.

Ultimately, we have found the benefits of cloud storage can far outweigh the risks, and we are helping many clients identify the best service for their individual needs. Don’t be afraid to ask questions as you navigate these waters – research is tantamount to make sure cloud storage contributes to IT being a competitive