According to techopedia.com, cloud storage is a virtual computing model in which data is stored on remote servers accessed from the Internet, or “cloud.” It is maintained, operated and managed by a cloud storage service provider on storage servers that are built on virtualization techniques (What Does Cloud Storage Mean, 2016). Cloud storage provides many advantages to a businesses, but it is crucial to take into consideration any potential problems the cloud may bring. I will first explain the benefits and then cover the possible downsides of the cloud.
When someone pays for their cloud storage space they are paying for exactly that, the storage space. You are not paying to own an expensive server, the maintenance of the server, or the technician in charge of maintaining that server. When you purchase a server you pay for the device up-front in one large sum, plus all of the maintenance and repair that comes down the road, when paying for the cloud there is no an initial investment up-front, instead you only pay your subscription fee. Also, many platforms allow you to pay for only what you use – meaning that a business will no longer waste money on extra storage space they do not use nor need.
Access to Your Data
While some businesses use remote access, the software can be buggy, inconsistent, or fail to open– leaving employees helpless and unable to be productive out of the office. With the cloud all of your uploaded files can be reached anywhere from any device. This means that if a company employee forgets to bring his or her laptop on a business trip across the country they would still be able to access their important files on any of their other devices that connect to the internet (i.e. tablet, phone, etc.). Better yet, even if this person were robbed of all of their devices on this trip, they would still have the ability to access to their files from any computer or tablet they come across – meaning they could go to a local library, access the needed files, print them off, and go on to represent their company.
In the past, working on a document meant getting a team together in the same room to work on the same piece of paper or computer. Now, thanks to services like Google Drive, teams can meet virtually and collaborate on the same file simultaneously. This not only increases efficiency, but it also decreases costs by not requiring individuals to travel to be in the same room with their team just to work on a particular document.
With physical servers in an office building data is susceptible to fires, floods, and other natural disasters. Cloud service providers reduces this risk by backing up your data and not solely relying on company resources. Another security risk, one that might be even more detrimental for our company, is theft. If an employee were to hack into your servers, steal sensitive information, and sell it to your competitors there would be a slim chance of survival. The cloud prevents this by eliminating the physical component of theft.
A main concern with privacy is the fact that we are letting a third party have access and control of all of a company’s data. While the larger cloud providers (Dropbox and Google Drive) have acceptable terms of agreements, these are always subject to change. If the terms are not an issue, there is also the very real possibility of a hack. In 2012 Dropbox was hacked and over 68 million accounts were stolen. The chances of another hack is more likely than not. It is not a matter of if but when.
A large company has many document, the majority being quite large (memory wise), which require a substantial amount of network bandwidth. If the majority of our employee’s back-up their entire data library, then our network may experience a substantial decrease in speed. This speed decrease will affect worker’s ability to accomplish their tasks, meaning less work over a longer time – which is a huge waste of company resources and money.
Much like a hack, a cyber-attack is a real possibility. A cyber-attack directed at a partnering cloud service would suspend any of our company’s work that is located in the cloud. An outage also has the possibility of effecting work internal to the company that is not in the cloud by causing panic as to what could be lost and how long the service will be down.