Still afraid cloud technology will leave your client unprotected?

Still afraid cloud technology will leave your client unprotected?

Still afraid cloud technology will leave your client unprotected? A mysterious cloud hovers over small businesses and midsize companies, causing confusion — even fear — about the future of information technology.

But as we celebrate nearly 15 years of cloud computing, SMBs everywhere are beginning to see the value of this strange new world.

Shelly Edwards of PGI takes a look at the myths surrounding cloud technology, beginning with the myth surrounding the lack of security of cloud technologies for your clients’ confidential information.

Myth 1: “The cloud is a huge security threat for my business”
The leading inhibitor to cloud adoption is a perceived lack of security control transparency, especially among small businesses and midsize companies. With the plethora of cloud offerings available to SMBs — including onsite and outsourced Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) — cloud computing data and network security principals are often a source of confusion and concern.

Reality: The cloud protects your data – and your business
Organizations consumed more than $1.3 billion worth of cloud services in 2013, and the $3 billion mark is expected to be reached by 2017 — a sure sign that companies are: A) using the cloud and/or B) moving applications to the cloud. Yet the issue of data and network security continues to plague the minds of IT everywhere. The top three security concerns are privacy, legal compliance, and data security. Let’s review these three issues and break down each concern, one at a time.

Privacy
When you give employees access to corporate information or hand your information over to an outsourced company, you always run the risk that your data will be breached. Yet despite the risks, today’s business world lives on servers, storage and networks. So how do you protect the privacy of your company and employees in this IT world?

A common misconception is that the cloud means all services are outsourced — from data storage to email. The solution for many companies is creating a hybrid cloud environment, where the most sensitive information, such as credit files and Social Security numbers, is stored onsite in secure, company-controlled data centers. Less private information, such as email, websites and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) services, are outsourced to PaaS or SaaS providers. The hybrid environment gives businesses the benefits of the cloud with the privacy controls they need to sleep at night.

Legal compliance
The information technology era brought wondrous advances in the world of business: lightning-fast communications, business automation and global expansion. Yet with this new digital universe, businesses now face overwhelming government regulations that threaten unwary and already busy business owners.

When it comes to legal compliance, it is absolutely vital that SMB owners understand the types of government compliance — city, province, federal and global — and their associated IT implications, especially when utilizing cloud services.

The good news? The cloud can be the ideal location for your data when you choose a services provider that specializes in the regulation affecting your business.

Cloud providers such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft, for example, have PCI DSS-compliant infrastructure services for secure, compliant migration and data storage. The secret lies in understanding your needs and, if outsourcing data or applications, choosing cloud services providers with a gold star in the compliance your company requires.

Data security
Protecting confidential information is vital for maintaining the trust of customers and business relationships. Through the arteries of email, websites, CRM, VoIP phone systems, databases, software and computer hard drives, SMBs perform the day-to-day operations vital for short- and long-term success. Yet with so much information traveling through the digital universe, we run the risk of both accidental and malicious data breaches, data erasure and other data loss that could compromise overall business integrity. Despite these security concerns, choosing the right cloud infrastructure will protect your data better than ever before.

With cloud services, the high-end data security systems that were once cost-prohibitive for small businesses are now just a cloud away. The key is finding the right provider to trust with your confidential data.

Now that we’ve busted the main cloud security myths (privacy, legal compliance, and data security), feel at ease to choose the cloud environment that meets the unique needs of your business. The next step is evaluating your system needs (data center, network, software and computing) to determine whether a private, hybrid or fully hosted cloud is best for you.