How safe is your company's on premise data and should your data be in the cloud?

How safe is your company's on premise data and should your data be in the cloud?

We talk with a lot of SMB owners about the safety concerns of moving their data to the cloud. The main concern seems to be because it’s in the cloud it may get hacked or accessed by governments as it may be stored offshore. That they don’t have control of the hardware and software if something goes wrong and they are relying on a third part to fix the problem.

Unfortunately especially for small business there is a lot of misconceptions in relation to the cloud. Some of you may have read recently about Facebook Messenger being able to turn your camera on and record conversations even when your device is in sleep mode. Unfortunately most of these statements are misinformed and spread through Social media and Blogs leading to security and other concerns in the majority of readers. A quick search will usually quickly find the real answers and dispel most of these myths.

So the question, is your data safer on premise or in the cloud. For most small business we deal with I will explain why we feel it’s safer in the cloud. Let’s look at Microsoft as an example of cloud data and why we believe it provides enterprise level security and redundancy that is not possible in the SMB sector from a physical and monetary level.

Some brief facts about how Microsoft secures your data:

  • Physical redundancy and security at server, data centre, and service levels
  • Data redundancy with robust failover capabilities
  • Functional redundancy with offline functionality
  • Active load balancing
  • Automated failover with human backup
  • Data Encryption
  • Active load balancing
  • Automated failover with human backup
  • Nightly backups
  • Data replication across geographically separate data centres

This is only a very brief overview the redundancy that’s built into Microsoft’s Cloud solutions such as CRM online 2013, Office 365 and SharePoint Online. Microsoft also takes the security of you data very seriously as well as access to your data:

  • Microsoft don’t scan your email or documents for building analytics, data mining, advertising, or otherwise improving the service.
  • Meet or exceed many security standards click here for more detailed information
  • Your data is always accessible to data owners
  • Data is available up to 90 days post cancelling a cloud service
  • Now a lot of this information may be confusing or foreign to many readers. So to summarise this is enterprise level redundancy, security and service levels that even most enterprise level companies would find difficult and too expensive to implement.
  • Now let’s look at some of your on premise risks to your data:
  • Software not patched and missing critical updates
  • Poor if any security both physical and at the network and software levels
  • Little or no hardware redundancy i.e. battery raid, power backup etc
  • Hardware, network and virus monitoring tools / platforms
  • Lack of computer technicians and engineers.
  • Legacy hardware, software and server OS’s

This is just a few however I left out the critical risk which is backups and Disaster Recovery.

Ask yourself honestly:

  •  Do you have a good backup system that runs at least nightly?
  •  How critical is losing one day of data at minimum?
  •  Are backups also available off-site and what is the time gap between off-site backups?
  •  Do you have a good Disaster Recovery plan and has it been tested?
  •  In the event of hardware failure who will restore it and what hardware will it be restored on?

This is really just the tip of the iceberg as there are many more issues that could potentially cripple your business if the data can’t be restored. We have seen many business’s that had the best intentions however ended up with backups that could not be restored or were months to even years old.

So is the cloud perfect absolutely not and like anything in this world not all cloud is created equal. It’s imperative if moving to the cloud that you have a trusted advisor to assess the capabilities and risks of the various providers especially if you are considering some of the smaller or cheaper providers.

With a lot of small business decentralising and becoming more mobile as well as the certainty in no disasters blowing your technology budget and or crippling your business the cloud should be a serious consideration. Let the experts take care of the hardware, security and most importantly the redundancy and backups so you can focus on your core business.

About the author

Antony has an interest in most areas of IT particularly in the small business area, as well as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Cloud software and solutions.