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What if it Rains in the Cloud?

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Cloud computing has become a cost-effective model for small and medium-sized enterprises, SMEs, that wish to use the latest technology on-demand and with no commitments or need to purchase and manage software products. These features have made hosted services an attractive choice, such that industry analyst firm, The 451 Group, has predicted the marketplace for cloud computing will grow from $8.7billion in revenue in 2010 to $16.7billion by 2013.

Yet, many organizations think twice when it comes to entrusting their data to third parties. Let's face it, almost every web user has an account on sites such as Gmail or Facebook – where personal information is saved on a separate mainframe; but when it comes to businesses allowing corporate data to go through third parties, the danger and implications are greater as an error affects a whole system, not just a single individual.

So The Question Arises: What If It Rains In The Cloud?

Some SMEs are apprehensive about using hosted services because their confidential data is being handled by third parties and because they believe the solution provider might fail. Funnily enough, it's usually the other way around. Subject to selecting a reputable provider, smaller businesses can attain better security via cloud computing as the solution provider usually invests more in security (multiple backup locations, 24/7 monitoring, physical security protecting sites, and more) than any individual small business could. Also, the second the service provider patches security vulnerability, all customers are instantly protected, as opposed to downloadable patches that the IT team within a company must apply.

And, to prevent data leaks, cloud services providers make it their aim to invest in the best technology infrastructures to protect their clients' information, knowing that even the slightest mistake can ruin their reputation – not to mention potential legal claims – and, with that, their business.

A drawback with some hosted services is that if you decide you want to delete a cloud resource, this might not result in true wiping of the data. In some cases, adequate or timely deletion might be impossible for example, because the disk that needs to be destroyed also stores data from other clients. Also, certain organizations find it difficult to entrust their confidential data to third parties.

Use Your Umbrella

Cloud computing can be the better solution for many SMEs, particularly in the case of start-ups and small businesses which cannot afford to invest in a proper IT infrastructure. The secret is to know what to look for when choosing a provider: Engage the services of a provider that will provide high availability and reliability. It would be wise to avoid cloud service providers that do not have much of a track record, and that perhaps are of limited size and profitability, subject to M&A activity, and changing development priorities.

To enjoy the full potential promised by the technology, it is important to choose a hosted service provider that has proven itself in the marketplace and that has solid ownership and management, applies stringent security measures, uses multiple data centers so as to avoid a single point of failure, provides aggressive solid service level agreement, and is committed to cloud services for the long term.

Following these suggestions, you can have a peace of mind that your data is unlikely to be subjected to ‘bad weather'!

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