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@BigDataExpo Authors: Pat Romanski, Ian Khan, Patrick Hubbard, Elizabeth White, Cloud Best Practices Network

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@CloudExpo: Article

How Safe Is the Cloud?

Cloud computing is a convenient way to access information and files anywhere or at anytime

How can your business benefit from using the cloud? We hear the term all the time in the tech world, but it's never really clearly defined. Those of us who are using social media or saving data with online sources are already using it. Perhaps you just didn't know it. Amazon is one of the largest cloud service centers. It houses information on behalf of Netflix, Dropbox and Autodesk. Other remote servers are Google, Microsoft and Rackspace.

The Cloud Explained
The cloud is basically a network of remote servers provided by various companies. IT departments use to handle their own data storage for various businesses and companies, which required a lot of responsibility and maintenance. The cloud is similar to a power company providing a service, and there sole focus and responsibility is the upkeep, repair and sustaining of information, which can save businesses money.

When you take a photo with your phone and then upload it to a site like Instagram, you've just uploaded that photo to the cloud. It's the same with various software applications like Adobe Creative Suite. Gone are the days of buying the actual box CD. Now, you have to pay a monthly subscription to access Photoshop or Illustrator, which is downloaded from the cloud. If you've used Gmail, Yahoo Mail or Google Docs, you have been using a cloud service. Cloud storage is an excellent resource for small and large business data storage.

Benefits and Drawbacks
Cloud computing is a convenient way to access information and files anywhere or at anytime. There's no limit to the amount of data that can be stored. Companies also only pay for the service when they use it. Managing your own personal data center can be costly, and you need the space in which to operate it. Cloud storage can offer a business long-term solutions that save money. Also, companies no longer have to purchase hardware equipment that will need updating and replacing in order to combat its depreciating value. It creates efficiency and access to resources quickly.

However, there are some concerns with cloud computing and security is at the top of the list. Many cloud services tout that they are safe, but there is still a vulnerability to viruses. There are many antivirus services available such as these, to help combat this issue. Privacy has become front and center with the recent Edward Snowden leaks; companies like Google have opted to automatically encrypt data for users who pay for cloud services. Sadly, not all cloud computing services considers security risk when deciding to use remote data storage. Some service providers don't reveal to customers where there sensitive information is being stored. Encryption is one of many ways to protect data, but there are other services that are available to protect privacy on the cloud.

Though the cloud can make accessing data extremely convenient, what about if there's a service outage? If your business relies on accessing its data around-the-clock, then technical issues could be a big problem. In this case, consider a fail-safe for you information, which utilizes a cross-cloud backup system. The reliability of your own internet connection is another consideration to take into account. If you have an outage, accessing data becomes impossible.

Cloud computing is a great way to share and store data. It allows for ease and access from any device from any where in the world. As with all technologies, there's the good and the not so good. In the end, do your own research to make sure your needs are met reliably and safely.

More Stories By Roscoe Smith

Roscoe is a cloud computing expert. In the field since it came to be, he enjoys informing others of this great storage alternative.

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