Cloud Computing – A Reality Check

Cloud Computing is where your data and applications are on a server that is in remote building and you access it over the Internet.

There are 2 cloud options:

Rented: Where you rent space and applications on someone else’s server.

Hosted: Where you have your own server hosted in someone else’s building.

Is it really practical?

If you don’t have an office, and all your staff work remotely then the fact is you have no-where to put a server.  You therefore have two options:

  • Buy a server and host it at someone else’s premises
  • Rent IT services running on some else’s server.

If you have an office, and most of your staff access your data from within the office it makes sense to hold your data locally for speed of access and security.

Pros of an On-Premise Server are:

  • Access to server by office staff even when broadband fails.
  • Fastest possible access speed to data and email
  • Data is secure. You know where your data is and you hold a physical backup.
  • If there’s an issue with your IT supplier; financial, contractual or whatever, your data is under your control.

Cons of an On-Premise Server:

  • Remote users can’t access data if office broadband fails.
  • Slow/congested broadband can make remote access to data slow.

Pros of the Cloud

  • Remote users can access data and email if office broadband fails.

Cons of a Rented Cloud

  • If broadband fails, office staff can’t access data.
  • Access speed is limited by local broadband connection.
  • Latency is an unavoidable issue accessing data over the Internet.
  • Internet usage is increased which can mean higher broadband costs or loss of service if ‘fair usage policy’ breached.
  • Users tend to store data on their local devices to negate latency and speed issues.
  • Increased cost of broadband to upgrade link to resolve slow connectivity (may not be available)
  • If hosted server fails you have no access to physical systems to resolve issues.
  • There is no option to backup locally and encrypt data.
  • Deleted files, emails cannot be easily retrieved from previous backups.
  • If service fails then downtime could be several hours as most cloud outages are serious.
  • Increasing costs as your data volume grows.
  • Migration is difficult and costly as all your email and data (hundreds of Gigabytes potentially) need to be transferred over the Internet. This normally take weeks and few organisations who are office based do this for this reason alone.
  • Your data isn’t held physically separate from other companies whose security policies could put your data at risk.

Pros and Cons of a hosted server are similar to the rented cloud only you can have the server hosted where you can get to it, you know where your data is and you can easily get a physical backup into your hands. It is also more secure as it isn’t on a hard disk shared with other companies.

The Cloud is rarely used for data because on-premise is more secure and makes data access and management easier.

Companies who have used exchange server for email, and are faced with high capital cost to upgrade email services on-site, often choose to use email in the cloud as this can be more cost effective for them. That said, managing exchange in the cloud has the same overhead to maintain security and administer as an on-premise server.

Support is another consideration. Cloud vendors provide support via a ticket system. You will no-longer be able to talk directly to someone who can immediately access you systems, diagnose and fix the issue.

What about Hybrid Cloud

To provide data access to remote staff if the office broadband fails, there is the option to synchronise data with a cloud storage provider. This is what’s known as a hybrid solution.

A hybrid solution would keep your data secure on your own local server giving fast access for local users, but also provide access to remote users to data if your Internet fails. Any changes on files remotely are synced back to the server. This is what’s known as a hybrid solution. This solution does provide access to data if office broadband is unreliable, but it isn’t as secure as holding data on-premise only.

Cloud providers frequently get hacked.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/08/31/dropbox-hackers-stole-70-million-passwords-and-email-addresses/

Conclusion

On-premise remains the most secure and practical solution for office based businesses, and using Igaware remains more cost effective than the cloud as all services and support are fully inclusive with no hidden extras.

Even with data moved off-site, if you still have a central office you will still require network security; firewalling, and web filtering, are included as part of the Igaware solution and these would still be required to protect your local network.

If remote connectivity is an issue then that is where attention should be focused. Users may not be setup correctly to access data. SSL VPN is a far more robust and secure method to access files rather than PPTP, which users may still be using. Or users can use webaccess to files on the server via https which is easily done by logging onto the Kopano Webapp or Deskapp.

If broadband is seems unreliable then get your network tested. Maybe there’s an issue with a network switch, a wireless access point, a router, or indeed the broadband itself. Maybe a second Internet connection should be considered so you can take advantage of the Igaware’s ability to failover to another connection if one fails. And with a second Internet connection, data load can be balanced across the two connections with one being reserved for remote users, and the other for local users.

Unless the cloud enables you to do something that you can’t do in your own office, then avoid it. It is unlikely to solve any issues, but is sure to give you lots of new ones.

Office 365 – Known Issues:

https://kb.wisc.edu/page.php?id=33784

Almost three quarters (71.4 per cent) of corporate Office 365 users have at least one compromised account each month.

https://telecomreseller.com/2017/01/17/son-of-a-beach-an-office-365-account-breach/

Igaware Cloud Options

 Where the cloud is the right solution .i.e. most staff work remotely, we can provide:

Hybrid Solution
Data can be synchronised to OwnCloud. Owncloud is compatible with Kopano  Groupware making files easily accessible via the web or deskapp, or via OwnCloud app on smart phones, tablets and desktop computers.

Hosted
Your Igaware Server can be hosted in our secure data centre.

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