With the exploding volume of data being created and the increasing sophistication of cyber criminals who want at it, data security is a fluid challenge requiring constant attention. Devising a data management and storage strategy that delivers on the overlapping needs for security, control and availability will definitely keep CIOs and data storage professionals awake at night. Increasingly, a core component of that strategy must be the role cloud data storage can effectively play, particularly concerning regulated and critical data.
Beyond an infinite ability to scale with great cost efficiency are there other compelling reasons to risk essential data assets to cloud storage? That depends on the service provider and not the inherent capabilities of generic cloud data storage.
Security is the most oft-cited concern, as it should be. Not all data is created equal and not all needs equal protection. But for data that needs the best, the assumption is that on premise beats outsourced most every time. There are many reasons why that is not necessarily true, with the list growing longer as cloud models continue to improve and mature. Consider:
- Secure data storage providers adhere to best practices and strict self- and third-party audit regimes to ensure compliance with standards such as SSAE 16, PCI DSS, HIPAA/HITECH and the EU Safe Harbor Directive, among others.
- Their environments – multi-tenant or private – are engineered around requirements for privacy and compliance.
- They apply knowledge and experience garnered from servicing individual customers to the advantage of all customers.
- Physical infrastructure and access control measures are state-of- the-art, benefiting not only security, but availability and disaster protection as well.
- Professionally trained staff understand security requirements and protocols monitor operations 24/7.
Ceding control over data is another concern that people have with big public cloud providers. People want to know where their data resides and that they can get to these assets whenever they need to, just as when storage is on premise. This is particularly a concern when laws or regulations dictate that the data in question cannot travel or be stored outside of the U.S. Customers want transparency. Big public cloud providers often cannot deliver on these requirements. But others can.
For example, all data center operations owned by Peak 10 are in the U.S. and under our complete control. This means that customers can specifically tailor a data storage solution to their precise requirements, deployed on industry-leading platform components from the likes of EMC and Cisco.
As far as availability is concerned, customers choose from multiple service tiers — high-performance, performance and capacity– to best suit requirements for particular data types and access. It is on an infrastructure optimized for superior levels of guaranteed availability. And it is all managed according to industry best practices by skilled technicians and engineers.
In summary, managed cloud storage comes at a known cost per month and known cost to scale up and out. Given the right service provider, security, control and availability can be equal to if not better than internally managed storage. More strategically, it allows IT and storage pros to focus on applying data to find better ways of doing things or creating new products or services.
IT must become a profit center if your company is to thrive. Managed storage can help move it from an expense to an asset. The same could apply to the CIO.