Migrating Business Data to the Cloud
When businesses elect to have their desktop applications hosted in the cloud with a hosting service provider, they are also electing to have their data hosted with the provider. This point is not always obvious to non-technical users and those unfamiliar with the hosted application concept. Many business owners have adopted an online or hosted application solution and then realized after-the-fact that their data was no longer present on their computer. At least, no current data was present, and it was quite a surprise the day they wanted some information but could not get it because they were not connected to the Internet at the time. An important thing to remember, and the essential factor in measuring risk associated with use of cloud services and hosted solutions, is that adopting online applications in almost any form means that the data associated with (and possibly even data remotely associated with) the application will also migrate to the cloud.
Migrating on-premises servers – and the applications and data residing on them – to the cloud makes sense for many businesses. Particularly as network and internet threats increase in number and as system vulnerabilities are more frequently introduced with remote and mobile access technologies, cloud solutions can significantly assist a business in mitigating the risks of being connected. Yet business owners and IT managers must be diligent in terms of understanding the measures their service providers take to protect and preserve as confidential the customer’s business data. And it becomes more than essential that any and all tools or services implemented be part of a strictly controlled information management and data protection plan.
Where applications are simply interfaces and logic; the value for a business is in the data used by the applications – data containing information about the company, how and with whom it does business, and how it makes money. It is critical that the business consider how and where users need access to applications and data, so that any cloud deployment does not wind up hindering productivity rather than facilitating it to a greater level. It is when the user becomes disenfranchised, unable to perform their work due to lack of access to information or tools, that “shadow IT” deployments appear, and data sharing solutions are introduced outside of the governance of management or IT.
The vast number of offerings for hosting applications and managing business data in the cloud makes finding and implementing the right business solutions a complicated and often frustrating process. Even large providers that specialize in delivering from a menu of business cloud solutions often forget that their target customers may not be particularly tech-savvy, and will fail to recognize the nuances in service delivery or protection that could make big differences to the business down the line – like in the case of a system failure or outage.
Among the keys to a successful cloud solution deployment, particularly when critical and frequently used applications and data are to be migrated off-premises, is a thorough understanding of how users currently work with the tools provided, ensuring that processes and utilization can be fully adapted to the new IT model.
As long as users are able to retain their productivity and efficiency, and when improvements in workflows and information access become additional benefits, the security and protection of the business data is more likely, as users will feel less compelled to find alternative and less secure means for making the business data available from the cloud. You may want to migrate your business data to the cloud, but you don’t want your data to migrate further than you can reach.