How we approach data storage is guided by several principles, including the need for compliance with various legislative mandates, the need to provide easy access to archived information, and the need to impose a secure storage environment. In addition to those concerns, the IT manager must also take capacity planning into account to ensure that an adequate amount of storage is available at all times. All of those concerns can be addressed with cloud storage.
Cloud storage and compliance
Increasingly, both in the US and Europe, data storage is governed by a variety of legislative mandates. How long you store data, how it is accessed, secured, and transmitted may all be subject to regulation; in addition to that, you may also be required to provide an audit trail. If you are using a third party provider for cloud storage and archiving, that provider must comply with the same regulations for which you are liable.
Those companies that are subject to HIPAA, Gramm-Leach-Bliley, Sarbanes-Oxley, or other regulations will need to take steps to ensure that data is stored securely, but this does not mean that cloud storage is out of the question. In fact, using a compliant cloud storage provider, which offers the necessary precautions and a written service level agreement, is seen by most government agencies as an adequate measure to guarantee compliance. Most cloud providers recognize the need to comply with multiple pieces of legislation, and have already taken steps to ensure that they can provide adequate documentation that they do so.
Cloud storage and access
The issue of access is important when implementing cloud storage. After all, stored data is useless if it is not readily accessible by any and all authorized users. Cloud storage addresses the access question quite readily by providing secure access to authorized users from any location, from any computer.
The simplified access protocols, governed by authentication and authorization, also allow for a move away from the time-consuming process of having to go through the IT department to retrieve stored data, which is a major misuse of skilled technicians’ time. The concept of cloud storage also works very well with the increased incidence of telecommuting, allowing authorized employees or contractors to access storage while away from the office.
Cloud storage and capacity
The exploding rate at which companies generate data requires constant addition to storage. In an on-premises configuration, this requires constant attention, and usually, over-provisioning. This over-provisioning on one hand guarantees that all users will always have storage for every application, but at the same time, it is costly and wasteful.
Cloud storage eliminates this problem. Cloud providers typically use virtualization, and allow for subscribers to access as much storage as needed—with additional provisioning done on-the-fly. As a result, users are able to access as much storage as they need, but without the need for over-provisioning. The result is dramatic cost savings, and the ability to add capacity instantly and as needed.
Cloud storage and security
But is it secure? Using storage-as-a-service has become widely accepted, and most providers offer both encrypted transmission, and encrypted storage to guarantee the safety of your data. At the cloud data center, the physical servers will also be protected in a secure facility with regulated access.
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