There have been a number of discussions and articles about the use of cloud based technology for small and medium business and not for profit organisation in the media recently. Most of them have shouted that if your business is not in the cloud then your business will not be able to grow and benefit from the systems that are available.
Taking to the cloud and embracing cloud technology is an important strategy for any business but you need to plan and execute the transition properly. And although it is constantly pushed that it is a plunge process not a toe in the water process there are a number of components where you can just try it. Individual business processes and procedures can be moved to the cloud as an independent component without dragging it all with you. The most noticeable of these processes are backup and CRM.
Cloud – It’s not just a trend
Backing up to the Internet has been around for the last 10 years and in Australia there are a number of businesses that have based their model of backing up and restoring your critical business data off site in the “cloud”. To me this is a logical progression.
Backup, disaster recovery and business continuity have always been a contentious issue for a business. Most businesses have the attitude that nothing bad will happen to me, and the number of times that we have been called in to an organisation because of that attitude is incredible. Even in today’s marketplace, organisations still fail to see the importance of their contact list, their accounting database and their intellectual property.
With onsite and physically based backup there is always a human component. Someone has to change the tapes or external drives, someone has to clean the systems and someone has to make sure that all the data is being captured in the back up process. This usually falls to the accidental IT expert, you know the person who was given the job because they know computers.
Once a cloud based system is configured correctly the data is sure to be available when and if the office burns down.
Yes the cloud is secure if you do it right
The security of cloud based backup systems have always come into the discussion. In most cases the cloud based backup system is normally more secure that where the data usually resides. The backing up of the information has two safeguards. The information is encrypted in transit, so it cannot be sniffed and read on its way over the Internet. This encryption can be any level that you, the business, require.
In addition to this the data at rest in the cloud is also encrypted. Not even the owners of the system can access your data without a copy of the key. This ensures that the storage of the information is secure in all respects.
The Cloud is designed for any size organisation
Cloud backup is not only for large organisations. In point of fact any organisation can use a cloud based backup system to benefit their business. The data can be backed up as a full backups daily or incremental backups where only the information has changed since the last backup. This ensure that the Internet connection is utilised more effectively.
The only problem for any organisation is the actual size of the data. Trying to do a full backup of two gigabytes of data every night over a standard ADSL line will not work, so the restriction is actually the size of the connection to the Internet.
In some cases a combination of on site and off site backup will improve the resilience of the business. By imaging the main servers to a local storage device and then uploading that image to the Internet, the resilience of your business will be increased. Something happens to the server and you have an image based backup available on site to bring up in a virtual environment and if something happens to the office then you can do the same with the off site backup. This scenario improves the businesses business continuity.
Overcoming compliance requirements
Compliance requirements mean that there may be restrictions on where your information is stored on the Internet. Some businesses have to keep all of their information within the country and this can be a problem with some cloud backup providers.
There are times and with some cloud based providers who will move their data from country to country and state to state to gain a better return on investment, so when looking at cloud backup providers then you will need to ensure that your data will never leave the country. In some cases having your information replicated from your local data centre to another data centre in a different geographical location is prudent to your business continuity.
In Canberra the local cloud based provider is www.soliddata.com.au who we use regularly for our clients. The wonders of having a local supplier is in addition to the benefits of cloud you also have the local service to complement the business and more importantly the backed up data is located in Canberra.
In addition to this, getting the seed information to the cloud and recovering the data in an emergency can be done easily and quickly with an external hard drive. We have known the data to be available long before the physical hardware has arrived on the site to be restored.