According to Gartner estimates, cloud services are expected to grow to 18% of the total market by 2013, up from 6% of sales in 2007. Cloud Computing technologies can bring several benefits to your company including increased storage, flexibility, scalability, reduced cost and much more. Many companies are slow to move due to security vulnerabilities such as long-term viability or data location; however, if proper security precautions are followed, utilizing Cloud Computing might be a beneficial decision for your company.
Once blended properly with persistent security practices, cloud technologies will allow your company to grow. Before hiring a cloud provider, you must ask the following questions:
1. Who is handling my information?
Get as much information as you can about the people who manage your data. Demand specifics on privileged admins and the controls over their access to your information.
2. Where is my data stored?
Ask providers if they will commit to storing and processing data in specific jurisdictions, and whether they will make a contractual commitment to obey local privacy requirements on behalf of their customers.
3. Do you have long-term viability?
Make sure that your provider will never go broke, or get acquired and swallowed up by a larger company, or at least be assured that your data will remain available after such an event. Find out the format in which your data will be returned so that you could make plans to transfer it to a new provider.
4. How is my data segregated?
Cloud storage is typically a shared environment, meaning customer data is stored alongside each other. Encryption is effective, but not the ultimate cure. Request specific evidence showing that encryption schemes were designed and tested to your company’s standards.
5. What is your recovery plan?
A cloud provider should always provide a disaster recovery plan. You must find out how long it will take them to do a complete restoration of your data. Almost all companies have redundancy, but some do it far better than others. Your data and application infrastructure should be replicated across multiple sites.
Beyond these five questions, make sure that you have VPN connectivity into the cloud provider so you are comfortable that your services are running as an extension of your network vs. servers floating in the cloud somewhere. Like all other technology aspects, make sure you have a plan for failure; switching to the cloud does not ensure that no errors will occur.
As new technologies are introduced, it is important to realize the benefits they may bring to your company. Study potential providers – be assured that the providers follow exceptional security practices. Before switching to the benefits of cloud computing, make sure you thoroughly trust the provider. After all, they are responsible for your data.