Cloud file services allow businesses to store and access business files (typically MS Office, images and files created by other applications). Storing files in the Cloud eliminates the need for a local server and makes the files available from anywhere. Using the Cloud also avoids the large capital expenses associated with a server refresh (usually replaced on a 5-year cycle) and eliminates the costs and risks of operating a server room. Many business executives are striving to understand how Cloud file storage and retrieval works, the benefits it provides and problems that can arise to determine if they are a good candidate for Cloud file services.
How Cloud file services work
Files stored with a Cloud provider travel securely over the internet to a third-party data center that contains multiple highly redundant servers for storing files that are backed-up in several locations. This makes the loss of stored files highly unlikely. The most common ways to use files stored in the Cloud are through a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or by remotely controlling a desktop using a software such as Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS). Smaller businesses sometimes prefer to use a third-party service and software to sync local files with files stored in the Cloud. No matter how it is done, files in the Cloud will be accessible through a variety of devices and locations.
Before making a decision, evaluate how much storage is needed, what kind of data will be stored, which devices will access the information, who will benefit and what is the expected outcome.
Benefits of Cloud file services
File services in the Cloud have many benefits:
- A convenient way to back up important files in an off-site location
- An important part of a business continuity plan by reducing the risk of outage due to a hardware failure
- Expensed is a “pay-as-you-go” service for only what is used
- Eliminates costs for power, cooling and security for server room
Pitfalls of Cloud file services
Cloud file services do have some pitfalls. By allowing a third party to store the data, a business is trusting them to keep it secure and accessible. It is important for executives to consult with their lawyer to understand the fine print on the service level agreement. Despite the extra security measures taken by Cloud vendors, there is still a risk that data can be exposed during transfer or storage. Telecommunications slowdowns or outages may occur anywhere along the line between the company locations and the Cloud service. To minimize this risk, many businesses add a second internet connection and configure the primary service to fail-over to the secondary carrier.
Like any technology investment, business executives will find that Cloud file services have some important benefits but it also require “due diligence” before making the commitment. The benefits must be compelling and any possible risks must be mitigated before taking the plunge. Are Cloud file services right for your business? Possibly but don’t decide until you have thoroughly weighed the risks and rewards.
For more information on NPI’s private Cloud services visit here.