How the Cloud Resonates with Business Today

Date:   Monday , October 03, 2011

In both the consumer and business worlds, there is a thunderous stampede to adopt the cloud. The cloud products and services market, is currently worth more than $16 billion, and International Data Corp. projects a $56 billion dollar industry by 2014 [1].

The cloud is in rage for good reason; users can access their data anytime and anywhere; they can share, store and backup files without worrying about size limitations. Infrastructure, storage capacity, collocations, maintenance and support are the cloud provider’s responsibility; absolving business users of a mess of expensive responsibilities. With the cloud, data is stored redundantly, at multiple locations, so disaster recovery happens within a matter of minutes—and for free—rather than in several expensive ways.

Users hit many barriers, when sharing files, including email attachment, size limitations, and difficulties of using ftp sites. The cloud takes the pain out of collaboration, by providing shared folders that can be easily managed by users, and the ability to share files as a link via email, or IM. Files are hosted in a central location, saving users the time of hunting down the most recent versions. Risk of unauthorized intrusions is minimal, as a good cloud service provider will authenticate each connection request, and encrypt communications over SSL. A provider should also have built-in permissions, to make sure files are shared, only with the right customers and companies.

Why Companies Need the Cloud?

The cloud is truly a boon for companies of all sizes. The way business is done, has changed dramatically over the past decade or so; Cloud computing meshes smoothly with the distributed nature of today’s companies. Collaboration has become real-time and cross-border, and time zones are not as important, as speed and efficiency. Many workers today, are also mobile and need access to data through their handsets or tablets. Businesses are running more productively, on leaner resources; having the ability pay for capacity as it is required, as well as to expand services using existing IT staff, is a requirement for many smaller companies. All of these factors mean, the cloud just makes sense, while the traditional file server could be on its deathbed.

SMBs and Security

Small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), in particular should pay attention to the cost-efficient security, the cloud provides. According to the Wall Street Journal, companies with 100 or fewer employees were the victims of 63 percent of overall data breaches last year [2]. Meanwhile, simple or intermediate controls could have prevented 96 percent of last year’s breaching hackers like low-hanging fruit [3].

Companies think of the cloud as adding security risks, but in reality SMBs benefit from purchasing a service, that incorporates current best practices and technologies to minimize risk. With everyone in the company downloading and sharing files anytime and anywhere, and from pocket-sized devices, the need for granularity of controls becomes very real. In addition to the threat of hackers, an employee who betrays his own company, can bring down Lanka. The cloud service provider can solve this dilemma, by giving read/write/delete access to users and groups for files and folders. The administrator can see every new user who joins the account, as well monitor file access patterns. Through the cloud provider’s proffering of controls, the admin should know how strong everyone’s password is, how often they use and change passwords, and peak in download activity. The administrator, who reviews cloud audit reports to understand regular usage patterns, will more easily detect anomalies that indicate breaches.
How Real-World Companies have benefited

I have many real-life examples, of how companies have benefited from cloud file servers. One company needed to share large design files between a distributed US team, and found itself clogging its email server, because the attachments were too large. A cloud solution solved this issue. Another company migrated to the cloud, to manage expansion to new offices, with existing IT staff. These distributed organizations are able to allow employees in distributed-offices, to collaborate, as if they were in a single office. A private equity firm that invests in developing nations, freed employees from carrying printed presentations and struggle to handle revision changes while on the road. They carry iPads with the files available offline, and they can easily update to the latest version, when they connect to the Internet.

These companies did not forsake their local area networks entirely; however, they implemented our hybrid solution, which delivers the speed of local storage, with the accessibility of the cloud. Users easily store, share, access, and backup their files, while IT retains centralized administration and control, to enforce business policies. Simultaneously, a local private cloud (setup on a mobile device, PC, NAS device, or enterprise server), hosts files in each office; allowing fast, secure access at anytime, regardless of internet connectivity. All these files are seamlessly kept up-to-date and access rules are fully configurable, to meet the businesses’ needs.

This unique hybrid solution, also addresses the psychological discomfort that some users still have with the cloud. Some companies are concerned, that because they cannot physically touch their cloud file server, they are not in control of their data. A hybrid solution offers a local component for peace of mind.
The Cloud is Not Just a Trend

In conclusion, businesses will see a continued need, to share increasingly-large and more complex files, through cyberspace; Cyber attacks will also continue to evolve. Technology has to meet these two trends, by facilitating companies’ file storage and sharing needs, while keeping up with the ever-changing cyber threats. Going forward, the cloud, in particular the hybrid cloud will be an essential solution rather than just a trend.
[1] Enterprise Systems, “Cloud Computing Set to Soar,” June 2010.

[2] The Wall Street Journal, “Hackers Shift Attacks to Small Firms,” July 2011.
[3] Verizon RISK Team, U.S. Secret Service, and the Dutch High Tech Crime Unit, “2011 Data Breach Investigations Report,” 2011.

The author is Co- Founder & CEO, Egnyte