Businesses are going to cloud computing solutions, with suppliers that provide extremely efficient alternatives that are far less expensive than the traditional in-house method. And why not!
The advantages of cloud computing for small businesses include reduced costs, easy servicing and latest technology.
Cloud computing also provides entrepreneurs and SOHOs entry to impressive technology and innovation, without the need of a specialised worker on the pay-roll. Plus, the “anywhere, anytime” availability to these cloud alternatives usually means 24×7 access to your business. All this means that an entrepreneur should have more sources available to reallocate that in turn increases cash-flow.
Whether your company uses cloud computing for e-mail, a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), CRM application, or creating off-site back ups of your business data, you are relying on a third-party as the source of your company’s technology and data. And that means there is inherent risk.
Research informs us that 2 things prevent business owners going to cloud computing – security and downtime. Two very legitimate and very real issues. But bear in mind, these challenges exist whatever technology alternatives you choose.
Here’s a summary of what to check in regards these threats when accessing cloud computing solutions.
When choosing a cloud provider, there are 5 areas of security that you need to take into account.
- Data Transfer
Uploads and downloads must obviously happen over the internet, giving a greater chance of a breach. To minimise this danger, make sure you only link via a “https” method and that information is always secured and authenticated using industry protocols.
- Data Storage
Features and performance are often the selling points for a provider, but we should be as interested in their internal security procedures. So ask – How are your details being saved and who has access to it? What details will the vendor reveal in the case of a breach? Ensure their monitoring and reporting includes all the necessary details you need to prevent or mitigate security breaches.
- Software Interfaces
Customers communicate with the cloud through a set of application interfaces or APIs. The security of cloud solutions is directly linked with the protection of these APIs. To increase the security of APIs, make sure strong authentication is in place, access controls are employed and there is encrypted transmission.
- User Access
Data saved on a provider’s server can possibly be utilised by an employee of that company. As a business, you are not always aware of which workers have access to your details. It is best practice not only to properly consider the details you are posting into your cloud computing, but also to ask vendors for details about the people who will be handling your details. In addition, as already stated, make sure your storage is encrypted!
- Data Separation
In the cloud, virtualisation is used to create containers that keep one client details specific from another client details. As a company going to cloud computing, you should examine the compartmentalisation techniques used by your provider, and be comfortable with their process and guarantees.
Technology breaks down – it’s a fact, lets move on! The answers we need are: how often does the infrastructure fail? And how quickly and seamless is the recovery?
Most proven providers will regularly post an assurance that their cloud technology will be up 99% of the time or more. It is important you know the guidelines of what is included in this 99%. And ask how long does it take to recover during that 1%? Check whether they offer a compensation ($$) policy if a failure were to happen. It goes without saying that it’s in the provider’s best interest to be up and running 100% of the time.
One thing that I do all the time as I work with small business owners – and I want to stress here – is reference check my shortlisted provider. You are employing them in a very vital function so ask for reference clients. And RING these references – don’t email – what a person will tell you is often very different to what they will write down.
Cloud computing is here to stay and the possibilities are too great to neglect it.
In fact, aside from a local PC and a browser, most small business technology needs can be satisfied completely with cloud-based offerings.
With appropriate procedures in place your transition to cloud computing should benefit your business far more than it hurts it.