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Public or Private? Where’s your data going in the cloud?

by Charlie Trumpess

 3rd February 2015 12:50 pm

By James Tizzard.

We all know about the cloud’s ability to reduce CAPEX, eliminate onsite IT clutter and reduce onsite resource requirements – particularly if an organisation chooses a managed services model.

But how secure is your data? And not just in any cloud, but a public one. Is it a good idea?

We support a range of clients using public cloud model, so we think it is. But plenty of people don’t – for a variety of understandable reasons. First off, let’s debunk the myth that public clouds (and the data stored in them) aren’t as secure as the internet connected devices sitting in your server room. They are. In fact, there’s an argument they’re safer – because they have to be.

To win over sceptical clients, cloud service providers have had to become certified – all of which require the adoption of processes, practices and security. Of course, certification and oversight can vary enormously depending on industry – the difference in data handling regulations between financial services and construction markets, for example.

Then there’s the datacentre – where the apps and data are held. They too are certified and regulated – not to mention fully redundant, so should one site goes down; there’s an exact copy of your data sitting safely elsewhere.

This ‘elsewhere’ question often causes concern…particularly if it means out of the country or on another continent. Issues of compliance with national and regional data regulations are real. As indeed there are between differing business sectors. Happily, it’s a simple problem to fix – choose a provider that uses in-country data centres, and is certified to the level required by your industry regulations.

Then there’s the managed services element – the cloud provider does everything for you: guarantees a level of resilience, provides security assurance, and manages the systems and hardware.

And, of course, cloud offers organisations almost limitless scalability and space to grow – irrespective of big your data is.

That’s not to say that private, or even hybrid models, don’t offer some or all the above. They do, but often at a higher cost, and in an environment where you have to be more involved. If you own the server – on-premise or in the datacentre – it can be adapted to specific organisational data requirements and tailored to particular technical and operational preferences. That could be a good thing. Or not.

Let’s try an analogy with the mobile phone. Choose an Android phone and you can tinker with the nuts and bolts of the device and its operating system to your hearts content. Choose an iOS device and you have fewer alterable options. Ultimately though, most phone users just want the functionality to stay in touch and download apps.

It’s the same kind of choice with your data.

If there’s an organisational reason to have a bespoke data environment, then private cloud gives you one. If the business is looking for a simple way to store, manage, access and even recover data then using a specialist public cloud solution should offer everything you’ll ever need. Plus, businesses generally benefit from the economies of scale of a public cloud service that’s set up and ready to go.

Either way, one approach is no more secure or resilient that the other. And your data is no more (or less) protected.

In the end though, which route to take must be made on the basis of logic and in full awareness of the pros and cons of all approaches to data storage in the cloud.

If you’re looking to create a private cloud environment, the time, resources and ongoing support costs should be considered.

If you’re looking at the public option, ensure your provider is fully certified, has defined processes and service levels, and is utilising data centres with the protections and locations that are appropriate to your business.