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Richard Vester, EOH Cloud Services Director

Cloud storage is attractive for many reasons.

The amounts of data – emails, video, documents, images that businesses produce is astronomical and storing this data in a data centre can be prohibitively expensive.

Cloud storage costs a fraction of this, a fact that is driving its enormous popularity.

However, businesses must first understand exactly what their needs are, before moving their data to the cloud, says Richard Vester, director of Cloud Services at EOH.

“This includes identifying what is most important. Is the business looking for high performance and availability, or only looking to archive its older information?”

He adds that it is important to choose the right cloud storage provider, and make sure their service level agreements (SLAs) are in line with your business needs.

“Ensure that your cloud provider is compliant with any privacy and security regulations, and is current in terms of data centre and any industry certifications. You could be liable if your cloud provider does not have adequate measures in place, and your data is lost or stolen. Tightening regulations mean that there could be serious consequences in this eventuality.”

Vester says this is particularly important for companies that handle financial, medical or any other critical data, as well as any industry in which data security and integrity are vital.

“It also helps to choose a cloud provider that is au fait with your particular industry, and one that has a good reputation and has been around for a while. A cloud provider who understands your business will be easier to work with in the long run. In addition, different industries have different storage needs, and different types of data require different levels of protection and suchlike. Choosing a provider that understands these requirements can only benefit you.”

Next, he says to make sure your data is secure. “Bear in mind, that if you rely on a cloud provider to encrypt your data, that provider can decrypt it too. Encrypting your data before it enters the cloud ensures that only the appropriate people will have access to it. In this way, when data is moved around within the cloud, it remains 100% safe too.”

In addition, Vester says understanding what a particular cloud provider’s SLAs are, is vital.

“Different providers will have different storage service levels to choose from. Make sure these are scalable to meet any growing demands, and that there are adequate business continuity and disaster recovery measures in place. Also make sure that high availability is included, in the event of any upgrades or maintenance that may happen from time to time. In addition, understand what is covered in your monthly fees, and what is not, to prevent any nasty surprises at billing time.”

It is also crucial to ensure that your data can be quickly recovered, says Vester. “The other side of the backup coin is recovery. Establish when choosing a provider, how quickly you will be able to recover your data in the event of a disruption or loss. Backing up data is fairly straightforward, but its recovery can be hugely expensive and time consuming. Make sure your cloud provider will allow fast and simple data recovery before signing on.”

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