What You Should Know Before Signing Up for Cloud Storage

cloud-storageThere are many benefits to using cloud computing for your business's storage needs. It can increase efficiency and accessibility, allow files to be synced and shared with ease and also save time and IT costs.

However, there are also several questions you should ask cloud vendors before you decide to hire them. Every cloud provider will have a different approach to these factors and they can directly influence your business. The security of your cloud, and the technology used to ensure it, as well as ease of use and privacy are a few important concerns you should have answers to before signing on.

The Data Center

If you're going to trust your data with a cloud storage vendor then it may be a good idea to check out their facilities. The environment that is maintained in their data center and the security controls used there can help you decide if you feel comfortable using a particular vendor.

If the access to the data processing equipment is unrestricted then your data will be at risk. This can result in the physical access to your data by unauthorized individuals and the corruption of your information. Ask the vendors you are interested in signing up with about their access control procedures to gain an understanding of how your information will be protected on a physical level.

Data Control and Security

The ownership, control and flow of your data should be possessed by you for the full lifecycle of the content. A customer-controlled system that gives you the ability to regulate the individuals that can upload, access, and make changes to the content is necessary for the security of your information. There are several things you should look for with a cloud vendor to make sure that they are able to provide you with what you need. The following list provides some starting points for you to look into:

Data Retention Policies – The retention of you data needs to be enforced by your cloud provider in order to control access to your data. If there are shared files that you would like to have deleted from a user's account and devices, your service provider should be able to permanently and swiftly delete this information.

Data Ownership – Your contract with your cloud provider should outline your rights as far as your data is concerned. Your ability to access your data should not be hindered by changes in the company and you should be given ample notice before important changes take place.

Data Transfer – The infrastructure of your cloud vendor may be completely different from the system you are currently using. This is why you should figure out if there will be conflicts with data transfer beforehand and make sure they can be resolved. Knowing where your data is stored, the process for transferring your information to another cloud vendor and your contractual obligations are all important things to look into.

Security Policies - Formal security guidelines and procedures are a good indication of the advancement of the vendor's program and their level of trustworthiness. If a vendor does not have their policies developed and written out it may be wise to look into another cloud storage option.

Protection of Data - Although there will be other users sharing the same cloud server your vendor should be able to protect your information from the other users. The segregation of data and applications is vital and your vendor should be able to provide you with a detailed explanation of their process in this area. The activity in your account should also be tracked so that you know exactly who is using your data and what is happening with it.

Government Regulations and Legal Issues

In addition to your vendor's personal policies and structural abilities, you may want to look into the legal side of your agreement. This can involve government regulations and legal action taken by you or your vendor.

Addressing Government Regulations - The privacy of your data is usually subject to state or federal regulations and in order to comply with these rules you need to make sure that you understand the management of your data by your vendor. Compliance with these regulations fall on you, which is why it is essential that you understand the handling of your data.

Legal Action and Requests – Your contract should outline what will take place as far as subpoenas or other legal demands for your data are concerned. This includes your notification of the event and the response of your vendor. It's also important to know what would occur in the event of legal action taken by either you or your vendor.

Your choice of a cloud service provider can have a large impact on your business, your employees and any stakeholders in your company. Defining your needs and the abilities of different vendors to fulfill those needs should take place before you make a final decision. By understanding your motivation for moving to cloud storage, you have the ability to identify the ways in which this change will benefit your company and understand the responsibilities of both parties.

Matt Smith works for Dell and has a passion for learning and writing about technology. He enjoys learning and writing about cloud computing technologies. Outside of work he enjoys entrepreneurship, being with his family, and the outdoors.

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