How a cloud-based storage service can keep your business’s sensitive information secure Featured

8:01pm EDT March 31, 2011
How a cloud-based storage service can keep your business’s sensitive information secure

As technology advances at lightning speed, the amount of data that businesses create and store is growing exponentially. Companies are not always on top of how and where that data is being stored, and information can get lost in the confusion.

Maybe you’re just throwing everything on your server, or having your employees use external hard drives or backup as needed. If you’re relying on physical servers or devices to store your data, your information isn’t as protected as it should be. Computers crash, which could lead to disaster if that’s the only place your data exist. Data is critical for a business to survive, so what are you doing to protect that vital asset?

“These days, data is everything,” says Alina Montano, senior director of product management for Time Warner Cable Business Class. “Regardless of size, every company has important information that must be protected. Data protection is critical for the success and growth of any business.”

Smart Business spoke with Montano about data protection and how a cloud-based storage service can protect your company’s data in any situation.

How can a company’s data be compromised or lost?

Statistics show that approximately 12,000 laptops are lost in U.S. airports every week, and two-thirds of those are never returned to their owners.

In addition, 20 to 30 percent of PCs suffer a major crash every year. Portable data storage devices such as USB sticks often get lost and, quite frankly, storing all your data on your computer is no longer an option.

The question isn’t how data can be compromised; it’s what you’re doing to prevent data from being compromised because, in all honesty, it’s a given that eventually every computer, hard drive and server will be compromised in one way or another.

What measures can companies take to protect their data?

All back-up measures are centered on replicating your company’s data and storing it in a remote location. That location can be as simple as a USB stick or a physical server room at a remote location. But, again, USB devices can get lost, and servers and computers can crash.

To truly protect your data, you need to implement a cloud-based storage service. A cloud-based service allows businesses to automatically back up computer files to a secure and remote data center as a protection against data loss; the service is centrally managed and configured with a Web-based administrative console.

What is the return on investment for cloud-based solutions?

Cloud services can be very cost-effective — you only pay for the data you use and/or store. This could range from as low as $5 or $6 per month, depending on the amount of storage used, type of service, or features you choose.

Think of the monthly fees like an insurance policy for your data. The cost is relatively low, and the peace of mind you get is priceless. In addition, you can take advantage of economies of scale, which means the cost-per-user is less.

Also, you don’t have any hardware to buy or install and you don’t need any resources to manage your IT. In the cloud, the vendor takes responsibility for maintaining the software and servers. In an on-premise environment, you would pay for the hardware, storage space and IT personnel to maintain the system, in addition to the software.

In a cloud environment, the vendor pays those costs, so a larger percentage of the total cost of ownership by you shifts away from hardware and people and toward the service.

What qualities should a company look for in its technology partner?

Choose a technology partner that can bundle services — phone, TV and Internet all interconnected. But at the same time, you want a vendor that is providing solutions for your business based on its needs, not just selling you products.

You also have to look at the technology partner’s data network. Does it have the speed and capability to keep up with your business? If you have a lot of data to back up, it could take a lot longer than it should if your business is on a slow network.

Finally, you want to find a technology partner that’s a serious player in the field, that will be around 10 years from now. It’s very difficult to move from one vendor to another because of the initial setup, so you want to choose wisely so that you’re not jumping from vendor to vendor every year.

Alina Montano is senior director of product management for Time Warner Cable Business Class. Contact a Time Warner Cable Business Class account consultant at (877) 612-7474 to discuss your communications needs.