MT Expert: Do's and don'ts in cloud computing for today's small business
By Michael Northcott Thursday, 31 May 2012
Introducing cloud computing as your company standard can be daunting, especially if you're not a techno-whizz. Rick Cawley of My Wealth Cloud, offers some essential tips...
In today’s saturated market of ‘information in the air’ software, it’s surprising that when you look up in the sky, you don’t see branded clouds drifting along, offering great deals if you decide to send up your six filing cabinets of company accounts, staff records and customer files.Here is a guide for what, and what not to look for, when selecting a cloud based storage solution for a new or small to medium business:
Security is undoubtedly an important question, however many people do not know their triple DES (data encryption standard) from their AES (advanced encryption standard). To keep it short, most banks operate at 128-bit AES; this is considered to be acceptably secure for financial institutions. However, a few cloud companies offer 256-bit AES data encryption to demonstrate their pledge of security to you, as computing power and therefore miscreants’ abilities to attack important data is increased every 18 months to 2 years. (Thank you, Moore’s law).
DATA AND PAPER
A key aspect is to choose a company that won’t alter the type of document that you originally uploaded. This would mean that you’re committed to the company forever unless you decide to pay an exorbitant data-exporting fee. There are plenty of options that won’t take you for a proverbial ride. Importantly don’t forget that not all cloud systems manage your existing paperwork and filing, only looking forward to future electronic uploads and not backwards to the paper mountain.
A simple system that easily allows you to manage who can and who can’t access parts of your cloud is critical for handling sensitive data. It is equally wise to check whether or not staff at the host company will be able to access your data. This is generally done to allow them to tell you passwords if you forget them, but some operators will have systems such as generating a user-specific encryption key based on passwords, or PIN numbers sent directly to trusted numbers so that no personal data would be kept on their system.
SIZE IS NOT ALWAYS IMPORTANT
Keeping all of this in mind, you may have selected a top of the range, all singing and dancing cloud file management extravaganza. In reality when starting out in cloud storage, as in business, it is far better to select something that has an easy to use interface and fits your business size. It is important that you identify the key parts of your business that will benefit from using the cloud, especially as it’s likely you won’t be sure how much data storage you will eventually require: often this is where future surprises lurk. Small cloud systems tend to be scalable and require little or no training.
Finally, make sure your favoured cloud system can be accessed remotely. It’s all very well having your data securely locked away, however, Sod’s law says come the time that you really need your data it’s likely that you will be far away from the office computer. The whole idea of true cloud flexibility is not to be tied down to one computer in your office but to access from anywhere in the world.
Rick Cawley, managing director of My Wealth Cloud www.mywealthcloudbusiness.com