Google recently announced significant reductions in their cloud storage pricing and others have followed suit – making the case for storing data in the cloud a compelling one. With so many options and prices continuing to drop it is difficult for businesses to ignore the prospect of storing data in the cloud. However, according to a Metalogix survey, a large percentage of organizations are concerned about what content should be stored in the cloud –an important consideration, but not the only one. Before making the move to cloud storage for SharePoint, Office 365, or any of your critical data, here are five things to consider:
- Not all Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are created equal
The first thing to note is that SLAs are not a guarantee, rather they specify the service targets and definitions that the cloud storage vendor is obligated to provide. An SLA typically includes performance and uptime goals, an explanation of downtime is measured, penalties for breach of the SLA, and limits of liability. When reviewing vendor SLAs, look for ones that best fits your requirements, and don’t be afraid to negotiate.
- Understand where your data is being stored
Cloud storage providers maintain global data centers, often as a way to better service a global customer base. This in itself may present your organization with issues especially if you need to meet legal, security, and regulatory compliance requirements that stipulate where your data can “live.” To compound this issue, many cloud storage providers leverage Content Distribution Networks (CDN) that replicate content across data centers to create data redundancy and put content closer to the end user/consumer. As a result it may not be immediately apparent where your data is actually being stored. Make sure you have a good understanding of any requirements that impact where your data is allowed to be stored and discuss these needs with your cloud storage provider.
- Be wary of platform lock-in
Moving data into cloud storage environments comes with a long-term commitment to both the technology and the licensing/cost model. Moving away is often technically challenging and time consuming. Be diligent in your vendor evaluation process.
- How will you connect your data to business processes and line-of-business systems?
Storing data in the cloud is only part of the challenge, understanding how your organization consumes that data is a critical aspect of selecting the right cloud storage vendor. Is the data simply being stored and shared (common for unstructured data like documents) or do you need deeper integration into line of business systems? Factor these considerations into any decision you make about moving to cloud storage and the vendor you select.
- Don’t forget about a governance policy
Moving any kind of data to the cloud introduces a set of security challenges that may not exist with data stored behind your own firewall. For example, the proliferation of cheap and easy-to-use file storage and sync services may make administration of your cloud environment a breeze, but with it comes a tradeoff in the form of security and control. Be sure to put in place a well-defined governance and monitoring policy, this will help protect your data in the cloud and control who has access to it.