Like many businesses, yours has probably jumped aboard the cloud computing bandwagon … or “skywagon” as the case may be. How’s that going? Some business owners pay little to no attention to a cloud provider once the service is in place. Others realize, perhaps years later, that they’re not particularly satisfied with the costs, features and cybersecurity measures of their cloud vendors.
Given the value of the data and documents that you store in the cloud, it’s a good idea to occasionally review your provider and determine whether you’re still making a good investment.
Are you getting these benefits?
As you’re likely aware, cloud computing providers offer a secure network of third-party servers that you, the customer, can access online. Thus, rather than relying on your own computers or servers, you can remotely store, process, manage and share documents and data. You might also have access to various software. Here are the benefits that you should be enjoying:
Lower costs. Cloud customers typically pay a monthly subscription fee or are billed based on actual usage. Reputable providers regularly upgrade their offerings and provide free security patches.
Scalability. You should be able to scale up or down as your data storage or processing needs change. For example, you might generate more data during seasonal peaks.
Convenience. Cloud services shouldn’t be limited to certain geographic areas or within restricted time frames. You should be able to access your documents and data from anywhere, anytime and on any device.
Many of today’s cloud providers also allow businesses to share documents and data with vendors to facilitate production and streamline workflow, as well as to provide some level of access to authorized advisors or other parties such as lenders.
How secure are you?
Serious concerns about cybersecurity in every industry have caused many business owners to “do a double take” when it comes to cloud computing. So, first and foremost, when evaluating your provider or shopping for a new one, verify basic security features. These include firewalls, authorization restrictions and data encryption. Also investigate:
- How frequently the cloud is updated,
- Whether data is backed up in multiple locations around the country,
- Whether the service has experienced any data breaches recently,
- How quickly the provider has responded to security threats, and
- Whether you can retrieve your data in a nonproprietary format should the service go out of business.
Reputable providers offer continuous data backup and disaster recovery capabilities, so you shouldn’t have to worry about losing important records because of a physical server failure or a lost or broken hard drive. But, beware, the language of your service agreement might leave you ultimately responsible for any data breach. Consider negotiating restitution clauses into your contract.
Cloud services are just like any other technology investment — the features and security risks will evolve over time and call for regular reassessment. Let us assist you in weighing the costs, risks and advantages of your cloud provider.