Article by Guest Poster
This article was written by a guest contributor. The author's views below are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of WHSR.
In online companies, or even businesses with online components, one of the hottest topics in the past year or so has been cloud storage. The reason for this is fairly simple: businesses thrive on efficiency and reliability, and these are precisely the benefits that established cloud storage systems offer. The specific utilities of a cloud storage system are numerous – uploading work data and files to a cloud decreases dependency on individual computers and mobile devices, backs up work more effectively, and allows far more efficient collaboration by groups. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily simple to work cloud storage capability into an existing online business or website.
The tricky part comes in choosing which cloud storage system to choose. From mainstream services such as Dropbox, to file sharing security systems like Sharefile that also offer cloud storage, there are plenty of different options out there – each with different services, capabilities, and of course, pricing options. So, how can you accurately assess which of these many systems is best for your business or web hosting platform?
Partially, this will depend on your own specific needs and preferences, and how they align with the various existing options. But in more general terms, here are 5 factors you will want to consider when evaluating and comparing cloud system options.
There are various security concerns involved when choosing a cloud service provider. The first is to ensure that the system you choose conducts its own business in a secure environment. Generally, cloud storage systems provide you with off-site data storage facilities, and it is your responsibility as a customer to check that the hardware, and even location of your cloud system is secure. This could mean everything from encryption and access to data, to the physical stability of the system’s infrastructure (for protection against natural disasters, storms, etc. that could harm the hardware storing your data).
Additionally, your security concerns when selecting a cloud storage system should include understanding what exactly your cloud provider is responsible for. Different cloud storage systems include different services (Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, etc.), and they are only responsible for your work’s security in relation to the services they specifically provide. For example, if you take advantage of a cloud system’s infrastructure but use your own software, you remain responsible for security as it relates to software.
The very nature of cloud storage tends to imply heavier involvement of mobile devices. Naturally, when you enable website employees, business employees, etc. to access and share work on a cloud network, mobile devices will be used more frequently, and will often be used for access to and transfer of significant files. Therefore, it is also important to pay attention to mobile devices when considering some of the security concerns mentioned previously.
In some cases, and with some cloud storage systems, it will remain your own responsibility to secure mobile devices for people involved with your website or company. However, there are cloud storage systems that offer security coverage which extends to mobile devices. This is certainly worth looking into as you compare systems, if mobile device security is of specific concern.
As is the case when aligning your business or website with any exterior service, it is also necessary to research the background of the cloud storage system you wind up choosing. Looking into factors such as customer service history, risk management procedures, security capabilities, etc. can help to give you a broad overview of a cloud storage system, which in turn will help you to choose the right provider for your needs as accurately as possible. This information tends to be publicly available for cloud service providers, and it is simply a manner of asking the right questions and conducting thorough research when it comes to your background checks on potential partners.
When selecting a cloud storage system, it is important to consider the ways in which your business or website may grow, and your needs may change. Of course, to some extent you can address changes and growth when the time comes – however, certain elements of your cloud storage system may come into play with regard to growth. For example, some larger companies and websites prefer to keep their data storage hardware on site, rather than in a remote cloud location, but still connected to the cloud network. If there is potential that this situation may describe your eventual needs due to growth, expansion, or other changes, you may want to be sure that the provider you choose is capable of adjusting to meet your needs. Adjustments within a partnership tend to be far simpler than shifting to a different provider down the road.
For most people looking into partnering with a cloud service provider, cost is the main factor that will ultimately differentiate providers. However, it is very important to recognize that comparing different cloud storage systems is about more than simply looking at a base price. As mentioned previously, different providers offer different services, and it may be that you ultimately choose to take advantage of only some of these services. Rather than looking at base costs for various providers, try to gain a clear picture of what the services you actually intend to take advantage of will cost from each different provider. This will help you to gain the most accurate understanding of what you’ll be paying for each different option.