You might read this and wonder what the topic has to do with DIYMarketing. Well, I can tell you that I moved my business to the cloud back in 2008. It all started when I switched computers and wasn’t able to upload 4GB of email into Outlook. I absolutely freaked out and revolted. That was actually the last straw — which came just months after something strange happened to my Quickbooks on the desktop that caused me to lose six months worth of data. So by the time the email was gone — I was out of my mind and I left storing files on my desktop behind.
I’m telling you all this because moving my business to the cloud was a turning point and has made me more productive and allowed me to grow my business more than any other administrative move I’ve made. So — in some ways — it’s a DIYMarketers strategy.
Here is a great article by Rae Rutan who writes about the latest trends for several different blogs in the technology niche.
Into the Cloud
Cloud computing and online backup are two popular ways to reduce the cost and support overhead of in-house systems. Relying on a hosting company to manage your data does not mean ignoring the responsibility of insuring that the data is safe. Just as with in-house systems, there are a few areas to research so that you know that your intellectual assets won’t be at risk.
Start by examining the contract you have with the hosting company. Ask for audit reports and focus on the security and privacy information. Is the information kept completely private and secure, or are there clauses that allow them to use your information when they wish? Are there options to restrict access? Is key encryption available so that no one but the owners of the key can get to the data? A good vendor will offer many options to meet the level of data privacy you need.
Because online backup requires your data to travel to the hosting platform and be stored on their systems, users worry about security risk. Your data is most at risk during the transit of the data across the network to the host. Unencrypted data can easily be intercepted while traveling through the network. Relatively simple network “sniffers” capture network traffic and look for interesting data.
Encrypted data allows only the sending and receiving servers to handle the data. A secure connection is created between the servers by using SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) or TLS (Transport Layer Security). Both of these techniques require the servers to authenticate themselves to each other before they will connect and begin sending and receiving your information. A secure connection option is offered by most hosting platforms that are servicing businesses.
Check and make sure that your hosting vendor provides a secure connection. Even though you may not feel the need for it now, it could become a requirement for you later.
Once your data is on their servers, how well is it protected? Some of the same concerns as one might have with an in-house system pertains to cloud backup services and online data storage.
Most conscientious hosting vendors will encrypt the data using the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). This type of encryption makes it difficult to read your files should they be hijacked. There are various levels of AES so make sure you know what options are available to you. Security levels can range up to governmental standards, the best available security for the storage of classified information.
Besides the electronic security of you data, research your hosting company’s physical environment. What security is in place to restrict access to the physical servers and storage devices? Is the data stored on multiple devices in different locations or in the same physical facility?
What protection is in place against fire, flood or other disasters? Ask the vendor to see their disaster recovery plan. In the case of a catastrophic loss of data, what are their plans for recovering your data and how long might your systems be unavailable while they do the recovery?
Communicate your security needs and concerns to your online backup hosting vendor. Find out what options are available to you and how flexible they are to change as your company changes. A superior vendor will work with you, find the best solutions for your needs and be responsive as your company grows and evolves.
Name: Ivana S. Taylor
About: Ivana Taylor is the publisher of DIYMarketers.com – an online marketing publication that provides marketing strategies that help entrepreneurs and business owners get and keep profitable customers. She is the DIY Marketing expert and book editor for Small Business Trends and a contributing author to AMEX Open Forum. Her strategic consulting firm, Third Force specializes in helping companies find their best customers and be the one they choose – regardless of price. Ivana is the co-author of Excel for Marketing Managers. You can find her on Twitter as @DIYMarketers.