There are a few good reasons why cloud computing has become so popular and prevalent.Beyond the obvious reduction in IT costs, there is the reduced responsibility for housing one’s own data- there are several benefits for reducing ones onsite data footprint in this manner.
For decades, companies bought their own hardware and built facilities to house that. Then Amazon AWS convinced business that it made more sense to leverage economies of scale by renting space on servers rather than acquiring their own. What made all of this possible was virtualization, VMware and Microsoft Hypervisor, which allowed more than one operating system to run on one computer at a time thus time-slicing the hardware among different applications and customers. Standardization also drove the movement to the cloud, as networking and security professionals questioned the need to have a proprietary device for every function.
It’s not just the cost of hardware that goes down with cloud computing, software licenses are lower too, as the cloud vendor can negotiate a better price than the average company plus usage-based billing matches up licensing fees more closely with actual usage. Beyond that, there is the need for fewer people to administer all these systems. You still need programmers and architects, as ideas is what drives commerce, but one single individual manning the control room at a cloud data center has tools that make it far easier for him or her to administer many more machines per person than someone working in a smaller facility.
Archiving data and keeping live data in the cloud also boosts security. J.P. Morgan Bank, Target, eBay, and others have all been victims of hacker attacks. If some of the world’s largest companies can be defeated by hackers then what is to keep them from attacking you and stealing your company’s and customer’s data? No cloud facility is not 100% secure, but a cloud vendor would suffer serious damage to their business if they were in any way lax with security. So cloud vendors use multiple layers of security, eyes-on 24x7 monitoring, and analytics to stay a step ahead of the criminals. Again they can bring resources to this task that the average company cannot.
Another reason to reduce you onsite data footprint is regulatory. SOX, for example, requires that you maintain an offsite, secure backup and archive. The offsite part of that is clear, but “secure” can mean different things. The most secure data is encrypted data. Data in transit and data at rest is encrypted by the cloud vendor. A hacker can only steal that if they have compromised the encryption keys or managed to gain access to a machine’s memory, where the data is in clear text.
Litigation, due diligence, and common sense says that in addition to keeping data backups there needs to be a data archive. To say that your data is stored in the cloud, does not mean you have an archive even if you are doing backups there. An archive is quite different from a backup. A backup you can only restore in its entirety. An archive lets you restore and access only the items that you need. For example, if you have a lawsuit over a contract from 5 years ago, it would be difficult to restore transactions with your defendant without erasing the current production accounting system, which one obviously cannot do. So the archive is a type of journal that would let you bring back closed accounting periods on line. That means old data is stored in archive format and not native database backup format.
ArcTitan has such a solution for email and eDiscovery. It is one thing to backup PST files. It is another to make individual emails readily accessible by firm’s attorneys or executives. The ArcTitan solution lets Office 365, Google Docs, Exchange, Lotus, Zimbra, and other email users retrieve emails from the archive. For the Outlook client, the user can query mail that has been moved to the archive within Outlook. Web or mobile users too can use plain English-type queries to search for items in the archive, even without bringing them back online or engage someone from IT. Having found what they are searching for, the parties to the lawsuit, or whoever is looking for instructions they wrote 3 years ago, can then chose to restore individual mail.
So, moving data to the cloud reduces costs and boosts security. But data is not the same as backup and backup is not the same as an archive. What the company needs to do to reduce its onsite footprint and eliminate any possibility of lost mail is implement a full cloud-based email archiving system in addition to archiving other types of data to the cloud.