Having been a direct and/or contracted developer within several corporations, I have seen and felt the pains of having most or all of the data I need to access within the “walls” built up by corporate IT. Although there’s much evidence to the contrary, it’s commonly believed that if data is on a private corporate network and “secured” behind a VPN, it will be much safer.
The birth of “Cloud Computing” has opened a wealth of possibilities that are still being digested and realized by corporations and their IT staff. Unfortunately, corporations too often believe that data stored in the cloud is much less secure, and that cloud computing is therefore unacceptable for companies with a wealth of confidential data, including IP (Intellectual Property).
I hope to allay some of those concerns in this post and empower companies to realize the power of the cloud to better manage and disseminate their data and provide even better security than what they currently have… There, I said it. Yes, your company’s data may very well be more secure in the cloud.
Collaboration in the Cloud
Email has lived in the cloud for years, but Google hit the nail on the head with GMail, which they offer as a formalized service to private organizations. How many times have you gotten that email from Outlook that your inbox if full? Well, with Google jumping into and leading the cloud movement in many ways, they were the first to offer unlimited storage for email. Yes… unlimited! That means you never have to delete an email again! Having information and communication threads available from 6 months to even years ago is invaluable. Companies are serving a large number of employees, but their storage is something they put quotas on in order to “save money.” And as their storage needs grow, so does the amount of data that needs to be backed up.
Since Google offers online storage to thousands of large companies and for free to individuals, they are very equipped to add storage on-demand to meet growing needs. All of this is completely seamless to users, and data integrity is largely handled by replication, and not backups. Therefore, old data is still just as much at your fingertips as new data. They have this stuff all figured out, and small companies to large corporations can reap the benefits with very low price points — definitely much less than it costs to have an internal IT department waste time and money incrementally as storage needs grow, and budgets need to get bumped up to account for the increasing costs.
Furthermore, email is just the surface of Goggle’s offering for businesses, which it calls Google Apps. They replaced Google Chat with Google+ Hangouts, which offers excellent realtime collaboration via chat messages and realtime video with multiple users. To put a bow on it all, Google Drive is included in the business packages as well. That gives corporations cloud-hosted replacements for pricey packages such as Microsoft Office, for no additional charge! Google Drive has excellent creation, sharing, and real-time collaboration on documents, spreadsheets, and more.
What about Security???
Well, sorry to burst your bubble on the desire to keep your data behind a VPN and/or firewall, but professional cloud-based services likely know security much better than your IT staff does. VPNs and firewalls can be very secure, but they are complicated and expensive to maintain. Furthermore, VPNs often prevent employee access to the data they need to get their job done. Not to mention the traditional and all-too-frequent account lockouts, which can, and do, take up hours waiting on the phone to talk to some contracted IT staff across the globe.
Making the jump to the cloud can be scary at first, but many large corporations — even those with a wealth of proprietary/confidential intellectual property — have already made the move and are thriving as a result. Just do it!