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Overcoming the fears of moving to the cloud, part I

When I talk with customers about moving to the cloud, the number one concern I hear is, “Will my data be secure?”  But as the conversation continues, it becomes clear that their focus is on locking their data down from threats from the outside — keeping the bad guys away from their data.  Authorization is certainly an important part of security, but it can lead companies to forget about why they have all that data in the first place: so that the good guys (their employees and partners) can use that data to achieve their goals.

You see some businesses that store all their data in a server in a closet.  And because bad guys can’t touch their server, many businesses believe it’s safer. That certainly feels more secure.  After all, if the bad guys can’t touch the server, they can’t get the data, right?

But keeping data in a closet in the office means that the data is only as secure as the office itself.  These businesses haven’t really reduced their risk of data loss – they’ve only made it harder for their own employees to get work done.

Think about it. The most likely security threat isn’t bad guys hacking in from the Internet; it’s a natural or man-made disaster. Something as innocuous as a power failure means you aren’t getting any email, unsaved documents are lost, nobody’s getting any work done. Your employees are dead in the water.

And a more major disaster — a fire or a flood, or an office break-in — could mean that a critical server gets stolen or damaged, and all that precious data could be lost.  Of course, servers can be replaced, data can be backed up and restored… But backups can fail, and after regional disasters, there can be long delays in procurement.  And time lost can never be recovered.

In my last job, I was responsible for the IT infrastructure for a major Japanese company when Japan experienced a major earthquake.  We had trouble getting power into our offices for weeks afterwards, and experienced delays in getting new computers for months.  But the systems that we had moved into disaster-resilient cloud data centers were up and running the whole time.

The benefits of moving to the cloud are as much about business continuity – being able to conduct business when you need to – as they are about protecting data. This is something I can’t stress enough. If something happens to that server in the closet, what are you going to do?

And this isn’t just applicable to smaller companies. For larger organizations, the benefits of moving to the cloud are just as compelling. A cloud provider has the ability to ensure data replication across multiple datacenters and to implement a level of security that is far superior to most proprietary setups. With a vested interest in building the most secure and robust cloud infrastructure possible, cloud providers can help reduce the risk of data loss and ensure a high level of business continuity.

So when you think about keeping your data safe, know that moving to the cloud using a reputable provider means greater security and more reliable accessibility. And of course, you’ll no longer have to worry about maintaining that pesky server in the closet.

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About Jonathan Levine

Jonathan Levine is the Chief Technology Officer at Intermedia