Not Everyone Wants the Cloud
For all its benefits, cloud computing requires a leap of faith that the provider will
secure your customer information.
Cloud computing is the hot thing in IT and the people selling it will tell you it's
inevitable. Marketers will insist your data should be in the cloud, sooner or later.
You should use Microsoft's Office 365 or Google Docs for your applications. Your storage
should be with Dropbox or Box, your backups with Carbonite or Mozy. Maybe. Maybe not.
IT solutions are not one-size-fits-all.
In the meantime, you have important decisions to make for your business.
Maybe you're OK with sharing personal goings-on with Facebook and your personal
mail on Yahoo!, but your business records? Your customer data?
Not everyone's comfortable entrusting some other company to store and
keep that data safe. All kinds of things can and do go wrong with
customer data managed by cloud services.
And the fact is that if you don't want to trust outside services with
your data, you don't have to. Just as cloud services have improved, so
have software and hardware to manage your data in-house. The non-cloud
solutions are better and less expensive than ever.
First, don't worry about running out of room anymore. Storage is cheap.
You can buy a NAS (Network Attached Storage), a simple file server on your
network, from well-known companies like Netgear, Synology and Western Digital,
for pennies per gigabyte.
And since storage is cheap, you can use it for cheap backup. You can use
conventional backup software, but it's often more convenient to use purpose-built
synchronization software like Syncrify
from Synametrics. Such programs have all
the important advantages of backup software - such as scheduling, versioning,
and incremental backup - but they produce a usable second drive rather than
proprietary backup files. Such programs, Syncrify included, typically encrypt
data in transit, so if you are synchronizing between physical sites no
unencrypted data is exposed on the Internet.
A second NAS can back up the first, as well as client systems. Such storage
systems are often small and portable, so you can buy several and keep some
off-site for disaster recovery. (Make sure to encrypt all storage if you do this.
There are many solutions for such encryption, some of which come with Windows from Microsoft.)
Alternatively, for disaster recovery, you can keep such backup drives in a fire/flood-proof safe on-site.
Another commonly-cited advantage of cloud-based applications is that the subscription model
provides for simpler cost accounting as compared to depreciation scheduling for capital
expenditures on software. There's something to be said for this, but overlooks the fact
that you likely already have significant capital investments in software which the
services would replace. Keeping your business on your local computing resources means you
continue to utilize hardware and software for which you have already paid, rather than
incurring a new recurring cost for monthly subscriptions.
There is no reason to believe that local and private cloud solutions will be inadequate
for your needs any time soon. Even if you need to expand your computing needs and
implement new systems, you can do so without trusting your critical business and
customer assets to risky public services.