Cloud Computing: Handle With Care
As workforces become increasingly mobile, more and more businesses are taking advantage of cloud-based technology to help their employees manage information more effectively and cost-efficiently. The benefits of cloud computing are substantial, but it’s also important to recognize the risks and take steps to mitigate them.
What is it?
The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) defines cloud computing as “a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services).” By pooling computing resources on shared servers accessible over the internet, it allows users to take advantage of enhanced computing power from virtually anywhere with nothing more than a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
What are the benefits?
By running applications and storing data on centralized servers, the cloud provide many benefits, including:
- Greater mobility. Remote access allows employees to connect from virtually anywhere — their homes, their cars, customer locations, and so on — using portable devices.
- Enhanced collaboration. The cloud facilitates collaboration among employees, business partners, customers and others. It allows team members to share documents and other data with confidence that they’re viewing the most recent versions.
- Cutting-edge technology. By pooling resources, cloud computing provides individual businesses with access to cutting-edge technology that might otherwise be unaffordable.
- Cost reduction. By leveraging economies of scale, cloud providers are able to deliver top-notch applications, processing power and storage capacity at a relatively low cost. In addition, the ability to tap into these resources with nothing more than a Web browser reduces up-front and ongoing costs associated with installing and upgrading hardware and software in house.
- Scalability. Unlike in-house solutions, cloud computing gives you the flexibility to quickly adjust your storage capacity and service levels upward or downward as your needs change.
What about security?
Any time you entrust your data to a third party and make it available over the internet, there’s a risk of loss or unauthorized access. These concerns apply to all businesses, but they’re particularly important for those that handle sensitive customer or patient information, such as financial services and health care providers. To mitigate these risks, it’s critical to work with reputable cloud providers and to conduct thorough due diligence to ensure that they offer multiple layers of redundancy and backup, uninterruptable power supplies, high-grade encryption, and other security and continuity measures.
For added peace of mind, consider working with cloud providers that have obtained a certification that they comply with one or more widely accepted information security standards or frameworks.