3 questions to ask when picking cloud storage

3 questions to ask when picking cloud storage

Summary: If your small company has decided to archive or share documents in the public cloud, despite the potential security risks, here are some basic selection considerations.

TOPICS: SMBs, Cloud, Storage

If your small company has decided to make cloud storage part of its archiving, data backup or collaboration strategy (after weighing all the obvious security concerns and objections that have been set forth by your IT organization), what criteria should it use for picking the "right" one?

Seriously, it sometimes seems like there is very little difference between Box, Dropbox, Carbonite, Copy and the dozens of other options that seem to crop up almost every day. (See this related story and review for more information on some top options: "The top 10 personal cloud-storage services.")

But if you dig deeper into the recent feature additions or partner alliances being forged by the companies behind these services, your decision will become easier.

Here are three questions that you should consider as a start: 

  1. Are you using cloud applications that integrate with one service versus the others? As one really great example, Box has developed a service called Box Embed, an HTML 5 technology that basically lets you access files stored on the Box service from within certain cloud applications. As of early February 2013, the service features native integration with NetSuite, Oracle Fusion CRM, Sugar CRM, Zendesk and IBM Connections, and support for additional applications should be added in the coming months. Likewise, Google Apps integration is one of the biggest benefits of Google Drive, while Windows desktop and application integration is one of SkyDrive's biggest pitches. So, look carefully at which cloud applications your company is using or wants to use. This will help guide you to the right place.
  2. What storage hardware does your company use? In last March, SMB storage company Drobo launched a software application platform for its hardware line that adds mobility and cloud-connection capabilities. The company has already built specific links to the Copy data sharing and data protection service from Barracuda Networks. Now, the Drobo devices are also optimized for Plex, the digital media content management service. Another small business storage company, Iomega, has invested in its own cloud service to support its hardware line. So, it makes sense to look at your on-premise storage hardware and see if there are any logical cloud services optimized for those technologies.
  3. Am I looking for backup or file sharing? There is a big difference between services that focus on document storage and those that really center on backup, but small companies don't often differentiate —  until someone is stuck trying to recover system files that have been corrupted, lost or overwritten. Sure, a service like Dropbox might be great for keeping or sharing documents (I only use that example because of the huge user base behind it), but don't rely on it for keeping past revisions of files or for backing up system files you'll need for recovering your computer if the hard drive crashes. If you're sold on the cloud, your small company should look at both a document collaboration service (ala Dropbox, Box, Barracuda's Copy, Google Drive or Microsoft SkyDrive) and something that is focused more explicitly on backup, such as EMC's Mozy service or Carbonite. If your company relies heavily on Google Apps or Salesforce, you should also look at something like Backupify, which is explicitly focused on those platforms. 

Topics: SMBs, Cloud, Storage

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Google Drive

    This is all new to me, I'm not 100% up on what cloud is. Is Google Drive the same thing? I use Googel drive a lot for my pet sitting business ( http://www.shannonspetsitting.net ) so that my affiliate, my marketing manager & I can all access company files & documents from anywhere. As long as we have internet access we can access these documents. I'm thinking it is? The only thing I don't like about Google drive is if any changes are made to the documents outside of Google drive we have to delete the document on Google Drive, and re-upload the new documents. But we've been using it for about 6 months now ,and for a freebie its worked pretty well.
    • Google Drive

      Google Drive was mentioned specifically in the article. Yes google drive is cloud storage meant for working with googles apps (on your smart phone or web browser) and yes is cloud storage. it's good for your people sharing their files and for you to access them from anywhere. It's not really good for backups but will do in a pinch.
      • Thanks!

        Okay good! I guess I'm keeping up with the times without realizing it! LOL ;-) Yes it works good for trying to work on the fly!
  • 3 questions to ask when picking cloud storage

    Cloud-based solutions can bring many benefits for businesses. However, in order to take full advantage of these, organisations need to ensure the security, reliability and up-time promised from its provider.

    Security – Data security remains a major concern and barrier when it comes to cloud adoption for organisations; therefore it’s important that companies verify the security of any cloud offering. It is essential that information is regularly backed up; and providers should have robust physical and technical security policies and processes in place. All data must be stored according to the requirements of the Data Protection Act (DPA) and, critically, the onus rests with the business to ensure DPA compliance.

    Reliability – Before adopting a cloud strategy, it’s important to investigate the uptime that is promised by the provider, which can vary hugely. It is vital that an organisation checks the reliability of the solution; each minute that a network is down can be potentially damaging to a company’s reputation, resulting in lost opportunities and revenue.

    Regulations – A major consideration for companies with a US base or presence is that under the US Patriot Act, any US government agency can request any information that is held – whether in the UK, Europe or US, with no additional legal requirements. This is something that may present a barrier for many organisations in employing cloud storage, especially those with sensitive information, such as the financial services industry.

    By taking these measures before adopting cloud storage, businesses can safeguard profitability and business success.

    Barbara Kroll
    Managing Director
    Twinfield UK
    Barbara Kroll
  • You can get more than 100GB for free, even more, just by referring friends

    There is a new entry called COPY - it is a new cloud storage service like Dropbox, its offering 15GB of free storage and extra 5GB for each referral. Use this referral link and we'll both get extra 5GB for free https://copy.com?r=javsEx