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Seven things to consider before moving to the cloud

Not every cloud storage provider is cut from the same cloth, so there are some things you should consider before putting the business's most valuable asset in their hands – data.

There are several considerations when selecting a cloud storage provider; however, you should always start with the most important question: how important is your data to your business?

Product security

Data security is paramount, as is an understanding of any compliance obligations. Start with getting a clear understanding of the responsibility of each entity and how the provider meets those responsibilities, including the location of decryption keys, two-factor authentications, role-based access controls, encryption in transit and at rest, as well as platform-level protection such as distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attack and intrusion detection system/intrusion prevention system (IPS/IDS). Providers should offer monitoring and visibility for all data interactions with cloud storage/backup. Data location should be considered if there are compliance obligations that require data sovereignty.

Vendor pedigree

The wide array of start-up cloud storage and backup providers on the market helps widen the choice for customers, however, consideration should be given as to the risks of those without a proven pedigree in providing these services. What happens if these companies fail? Does the provider have good customer service, standards and certifications, and can they provide evidence of these? Can the provider offer customer references, white papers, reference architectures, etc.? Does the provider offer migration services and service road maps?

Service exit

A key driver for adopting the cloud is the agility it offers, but that should extend not only to onboarding but also to exiting the service. Organisations should be wary of the possibility of vendor lock-in and whether the service inhibits the ability to move data to a different location, service or provider.

Functional product features

Consideration should be given to the functional features that you need, such as:

  1. archive;

  2. object, block and file storage;

  3. file-sharing and synchronisation;

  4. file-versioning;

  5. simple object access protocol (SOAP) abd representational state transfer (REST); and

  6. support for various access requirements (public or private connectivity).

To achieve this, a detailed understanding of your requirements is required. The more mature providers out there will be able to assist in assessing your business needs and provide an overview of these functional requirements.

Non-functional product features

Consideration should be given to the functional features that you need. Having the ability to measure the service you are receiving through a variety of criteria allows you to make informed decisions about the quality of the service, such as availability, scalability, performance, manageability, integration, professional resources and, of course, cost.

Technical and architectural expertise

The provider needs to be able to implement a solution that meets your environmental and data needs. One major example is having the right solution for your organisation’s volume of data: enterprise-scale backup must account for hundreds of terabytes of data, whereas small- to medium-sized business data volumes are typically below 10TB.

Similarly, backing up from multiple sites versus one large site is going to be different. One thing to consider when choosing a provider is designing the network to make sure you have reliable connectivity and bandwidth for backups to be completed successfully within your backup windows.

Meet your business and cost requirements

The solution should match your business requirements: Is the backup going to be used only for data/file restores or for recovery in the event of a disaster? Does your provider have the expertise to recover your business from that data? What are the recovery time objectives achievable for recovering from that backed up data? Does your business require the ability to restore locally in addition to storing data remotely in the cloud? Can your provider offer the flexibility and scalability of the public cloud for long term data retention? Are you looking for fully managed backups (since you don’t have the skills internally) or for self-service backups? 

Sources: Carmel Owens - Chartered Accoutants

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