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Why & How to Integrate the Cloud into Your Company in 2018

Integrate the Cloud into Your CompanyBusiness and technology are two fields where one can’t work without the other. These days, businesses need technology to grow, and technology needs business to spread. Times are changing, and it’s harder to keep up and stay relevant when new companies are popping up left and right. It is crucial for business owners to find the best ways to continue to innovate and improve. So, how to: Integrate the Cloud into Your Company

Integrate the Cloud into Your Company

Integrating the cloud into a business could be just the right move to get one step ahead of the competition. The cloud works by keeping and using data that is kept within the internet rather than on local storage. Cloud services include:

• Platform as a service (PaaS)
• Software as a service (SaaS)
• Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)

Within these three sections businesses can determine what they need, such as network equipment (IaaS), resource tracking software (SaaS), and databases (PaaS). Businesses can pick and choose what they need, or utilize all three “departments”. By working with one vendor that can provide all three services, it leaves businesses with beneficial interconnective opportunities.

Why Collaborate

The cloud can bring collaboration to a team. More often than not, team members work together via email and share documents virtually. The cloud can provide this as well, serving as a central location to share executed work, completed research and gathered data. According to Trackvia, it has been discovered that working within the cloud can increase productivity and quality of work overall. It can also support remote employees and help them feel included with the “work from anywhere” feature the cloud can provide. According to INC.com, employees that have the ability to work from home are happier and healthier. A positive outlook on the day-to-day responsibilities from employees can result in better productivity and increased quality of work.

What about Security?

Security is becoming a larger scale issue as the internet becomes the primary channel for individual needs like online banking and photo storage along with enterprise use cases for data storage and project management. According to Salesforce’s former executive vice president, Vivek Kundra, “Cloud computing is often far more secure than traditional computing, because companies like Google and Amazon can attract and retain cyber-security personnel of a higher quality than many governmental agencies.” When working with a cloud vendor, they become responsible for the client’s data security, providing benefits such as faster patching. Cloud data centers offer larger enterprise teams, increasing security and threat detection capabilities.

How about Disaster Recovery – Cloud Computing!

There was once a time when businesses both big and small didn’t prioritize disaster recovery. Up to 50% of organizations have insufficient disaster recovery plans, according to the International Data Corporation. With the cloud, companies now have a built-in backup where data and files are stored without having to invest in their own data centers. Incorporating the cloud into a business, in turn, is less expensive than creating an in-house disaster recovery center. No matter the size of a business, there is the opportunity to invest in an “insurance policy” that will actually save them money. It also opens up a new market for cloud companies that can now target organizations with lower budgets but similar needs.

Environmentally Friendly

A short and sweet benefit, but a benefit nonetheless. Moving to the cloud can benefit both an organization and the environment. Saving money on supplies such as paper, ink, hardware, and big investment pieces like printers can make a heavy impact in the long run. In turn, there will be less waste and paper usage, supporting the environment and a good cause.

How

Once a company has decided to integrate cloud capabilities into its plan, the next step is finding the best way to do so. A balance must be found between the company moving forward for modernization purposes, while keeping up with already successful legacy system strategies. It isn’t required to move everything to the cloud, but finding where it fits best and where it’s needed is an important step in the process.

For example, utilizing systems such as G Suite or Office 365 is a smooth and relatively simple transition for a company to take when integrating cloud systems into their repertoire. G Suite is a collection of different business applications, including Gmail, Docs, Drive, and Calendar. All these separate apps work together and become an effective tool used by companies worldwide. This type of system creates consistency within all departments leading to seamless processes throughout the company. It can also aid in-house communication in aspects such as improved workflow, organization, and team collaboration.

For the transition to be effective, employees need to have an understanding of the technology. The creation of a company-wide strategy will ensure everyone has a clear understanding of what cloud services are being used, and what applications are suitable for this. Establishing training for employees should be a requirement to confirm that their skills are up to date, and that realistic expectations are set. On an administrative side, it is essential to remember that this will take time, and some employees may be hesitant to the initial change.

Ensuring they understand the benefits to this transition will be vital while making such an impactful change within an organization. Oracle CEO Mark Hurd recently spoke at NetSuite’s SuiteWorld Conference where he commented on a similar topic, stating “part of the reason this whole movement to the cloud is so attractive is the opportunity to get to standardization and simplification while you get to modernization.” Technology is evolving every day and to be successful it’s important to stay relevant and current in the field. Whether trying to avoid a security breach or simplifying and updating current business tech, the modernization of systems will be rewarding. Business leaders, big and small, agree movement to the cloud is something that should be done for a company to succeed.

CloudAlly provides cloud to cloud backup for GSuite, Office 365 and other leading business solutions.  If your business already has one of these business solutions why not give our 14 day free backup trial a go, backup your critical business data, so that you can restore it from any point in time in case of Malware, malicious activity, or even accidental employee error.

Latest Cyber Attack Reminds Users to Backup Their Cloud SaaS Apps

— How To Backup Google Apps & Drive —

How To Backup Google Apps & DriveThe FBI reports that there are 4,000 cyber attacks per day—that’s almost four attacks per minute—and they’re becoming more prevalent. In 2015, there were only 1,000 attacks per day. That’s a 300% increase, and the latest global ransomware attack may have been one of the worst yet.  Is your company considering how To Backup Google Apps & Drive?

While it’s obvious from their regularity that the business world is no stranger to malicious viruses, malware, and more, in many cases even large organizations aren’t fully prepared to prevent an attack. That’s because, when 93% of phishing emails are now ransomware, it can be difficult to keep up with the criminals particularly when your company’s safety is not in the hands of your knowledgeable IT department but in the hands of your everyday employees. If even one employee clicks on a link or downloads an attachment from a hacker, the data of your entire company could be compromised.

The key is understanding exactly what malware is and knowing whether all of your data, including Google Drive, is protected.

What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware virus that takes over a computer and prevents access to data until a ransom is paid. It works by encrypting files and forcing you to pay a fee if you want to decrypt them. Only the ransomware creator knows the encryption key, and if your company isn’t willing to pay up, the data is often deleted and lost forever.

In many cases, the ransom demand is made via new computer wallpaper, which details specific instructions for payment. Some past messages have read:

  • “Your computer was used to visit illegal content. To unlock your computer, you must pay a $100 fine.”
  • “You only have 96 hours to submit the payment. If you do not send money within the provided time, all of your files will be permanently encrypted, and no one will be able to recover them.”

Payment demands can be up to $500 USD with the price doubling if funds are paid within a specified time—usually 24 hours.

The most recent iterations of ransomware have targeted enterprise end users who may not think they are “valuable” or “high-profile” enough to be the victim of an attack. The reality is that anyone can be a victim, which was more than proven in the most recent widespread attack.

Recent Ransomware Attack

Petya” might not sound like a dangerous word, but it’s the name for a vicious ransomware attack that crippled organizations all over Europe and the US in June 2017. It began in the Ukraine and quickly spread around the world, crippling big institutions such as WPP, Mondelez (a food company), DLA Piper (a legal firm), Maers (aDanish shipping and transport company), and Merck a large U.S. pharmaceutical company. The attack locked thousands of employees out of their computers until the ransom was paid.

Large organizations were particularly vulnerable to Petya because it only took one machine becoming infected for the ransomware to spread throughout the entire network. However, that doesn’t mean small companies weren’t at risk, too. Any machine connected to the Internet—nearly everyone—is susceptible.

And “Petya” is only the most recent attack. Just two months previously, the WannaCry or WannaCrypt ransomware attack hit more than 150 countries, 230,000 computers, and hundreds of companies including Telefónica, German State Railways, and the Britain’s National Health Service (NHS).

In both attacks, the ransomware spread rapidly using Microsoft Windows as its venue to move throughout each network.

In the case of WannaCry, the ransomware found a vulnerability in Windows that could have been fixed with a software patch, but many companies were using an outdated version. Worse yet, WannaCry didn’t require humans to spread. Once it was unleashed, it had the ability to move around the network by itself.  WannaCry was able to hunt down vulnerable machines and infect them, too. It spread like a virus, searching out weaknesses and exploiting them.

Petya worked similarly.

The Petya attack began through a software update mechanism built into a regularly used accounting program. Then, a second wave of infections was released using a phishing campaign with malware-laden attachments. However, unlike WannaCry, which tried to spread both internally and externally, Petya focused solely on internal networks, which limited its range of damage.

“I’m willing to say with at least moderate confidence that this was a deliberate, malicious, destructive attack or perhaps a test disguised as ransomware,” Nicholas Weaver, a security researcher at the International Computer Science Institute, told Krebs on Security. “The best way to put it is that Petya’s payment infrastructure is a fecal theater.”

Still, in both cases, the outbreaks were devastating for the companies affected and were difficult to coral once unleashed. And security experts warn that Petya and other ransomware strains will continue to proliferate.

So, how do you protect your company?

Preventing Ransomware Attacks

The best way to prevent a ransomware attack is to be prepared for one. There’s no way to 100% stop ransomware, since it’s up to user error and appropriate training, but there are a few things you can do to negate the affects of a ransomware attack. The first step is to review your company’s security settings along with your software habits to reduce your chance of becoming a victim.

The most important protection: regularly backup Google and all of your SaaS data. The advantage of cloud storage is that it automatically backs up your data in a secure and remote location, so even if your business becomes compromised your data stays protected.

A common misconception when it comes to SaaS data in the cloud is that it’s backed up and protected. This is not the case—Google backup does not exist and Office 365 backup is limited.

Google Drive automatic backup only happens if you use third-party software, like CloudAlly, to protect yourself. This means that if you’re infected with ransomware, all of the files, spreadsheets, and private information that you put in the cloud to keep it “safe” could be at risk of attack.

And an external backup drive is not sufficient. A hard drive backup that is connected to your computer can be compromised during a malware attack.

Using CloudAlly, you can auto backup Google drive every single day including your Mail, Drive, Classic Sites, Calendar, Contacts and Tasks. This simple step can reduce your risk of losing everything if a hacker takes your system hostage. When you have a backup, you can ignore the request for ransom and have your IT department remove the malware without any data loss worries.

Then, once your system is clean again, CloudAlly offers a simple non-destructive restore process, allowing you to recover your data in its entirety with point-in-time recovery.

“If you administer your company’s cloud accounts and need a simple to use but sophisticated backup solution, CloudAlly is all you need.” — Gareth Griffiths, NRH

MSPs – Boost Office 365 Migration to Cloud Revenue by Including Cloud Backup

Office 365 migration to cloud, for MSPs

In today’s high-tech marketplace there are more MSP businesses than ever, which means that it’s more difficult than ever before to stand out in the space and to increase your revenue. As such, it’s vitally important for MSPs to shift their business models to include data protection. By adding a cloud-to-cloud backup and recovery solution to your: Office 365 migration to cloud plan, you can increase your revenue but 15% per job.

Let’s talk about why this is so important.

The Importance of Data Protection

“Data is not just an important part of business—many firms consider it to be their most critical asset,” revealed a 2015 CompTIA 2015 Outlook research report.

No matter if your main customers are multi-national corporations or small- and medium-sized businesses data is what makes the wheels turn. By offering data protection, you’ll see ripple effects that increase your revenue, grow your business, and improve your customer and supplier relationships. The reason why is because data protection safeguards your customers’ data everywhere it lives, meaning that, suddenly, you’re not just an MSP business, you’re a partner in helping your customers navigate and succeed in the digital age where data is on premise, in virtual environments, in the cloud, and within third-party SaaS applications.

Data Protection as an MSP Cornerstone

Did you know? 22% of IT decision makers say that they are or will be employing cloud as part of their backup process, according to Enterprise Strategy Group, 2015.

The truth is that you cannot be an effective MSP business offering Office 365 migration to cloud services without a way to protect your customer’s data. MSPs that don’t offer a cloud-to-cloud backup and recovery solution only partly service their customers. That’s why it’s vital to make data protection—such as CloudAlly offers—an integral part of your business.

Backup and disaster recovery is a key component every MSP business. Without it, what are you managing? Imagine if your customer goes down and loses connection to their data during your Office 365 migration to cloud service. If you don’t have a data protection strategy in place, you’ll be fighting a batter with no solution to offer. The reality of the situation is that if you’re an MSP business, your customers are going to put you on the hook to recover their data if they suffer a loss. So, by having a cloud-to-cloud backup plan already in place, you ensure you’re for any eventuality.

The Benefits of Adding Data protection to Your MSP Business

Adding data protection to your MSP business isn’t just about making sure you can compete, there are a myriad of benefits that will directly impact your bottom line. Offering your customers a cloud-to-cloud backup and recovery solution will end up playing a large role in your success, and here’s how.

1. Increased Customer Referrals

Your customers know the value of data to their business. They know that 47% of enterprises have lost data in the cloud and had to restore their information from backups and that those losses can cost thousands of dollars and hundreds of staff-hours if they’re unprepared. By offering data protection as part of your Office 365 migration to cloud bundle, you provide a new “entry point” for potential customers.

Customers in pain want to hire companies that offer a total solution to their issue. They don’t want to have to go to five different businesses to find what they want and need; they want a one-stop shop that fulfills all their needs. By delivering the highest level of service—including offering a cloud-to-cloud backup and recovery solution—you’ll demonstrate your willingness to go “above and beyond” for every customer, which will increase the likelihood that you’ll be recommended to other businesses down the road.

2. Deeper Customer Relationships

You won’t receive additional customer referrals unless you first build a deeper relationship with your current customers. The essence of the MSP and customer relationship is service, and we’re not just talking about hardware and software services. The success of your MSP business is based on your customer service orientation. An exceptional customer service orientation means more frequent and better customer communication and more solutions to potential pain points.

By offering a cloud-to-cloud backup and recovery solution as part of your Office 365 migration to cloud service, you increase the confidence your customer has in what you offer. Think about it this way, what happens if your customer goes down and you can’t get them back up? In most cases, you’ve violated the trust your customer has placed in you, and they’ll cancel their contract and never give you another opportunity to work with them again. What’s worse is that that customer will probably share their bad experience with anyone who will listen.

That’s why data protection is so important. It’s a client data safeguard that protects both you and your customer from potentially dire consequences, and that customer service investment directly impacts your bottom line. When you build deeper relationships with your customers, you can charge higher rates, gain more business, and build your reputation.

3. Recurring Revenue

Already, many MSP businesses have developed recurring-revenue models, but that model is only possible if you have a service that someone is will to pay for month-over-month. Data protection is a linchpin for recurring-revenue models. Customers will be far more willing to pay you a fee every month if you give them the confidence to believe that their data and infrastructure will always be available.

And another benefit of the recurring-revenue model is that it means you can lower the price barrier to entry for your Office 365 migration to cloud customers. If you know you can charge a monthly fee for backup, recovery, and business continuity, then you can make it easier for your customers to acquire your service in the first place.

4. Less Work

The easiest way to be more profitable is to do less work. When you purchase CloudAlly’s backup and recovery solution, you don’t have to add any extra work to your own staff yet you increase your reliability and the confidence your customer has in your business.

CloudAlly allows you to manage all of your customers from a single account. This means that you can activate backups for all users with a single click, and even set auto-detect options for new users. And if you have to perform a restore, CloudAlly offers non-destructive restores from any point in time.

When you partner with CloudAlly, you gain the support of a vendor that understands and supports your need to resolve all of your customer issues clearly and quickly. Once your customers have signed up, you can sit back and relax and allow CloudAlly to worry about protecting all the necessary data.

Conclusion

Cloud-to-cloud backup and recovery is no longer just a “nice thing to have” when it comes to MSPs and the Office 365 migration to cloud service. It’s a necessary cornerstone of your business. If you lose your customer’s data, you’ll lose all their business forever, and they’ll tell their friends to avoid you as well.

Boost your profits, and protect your business and keep your customers happier by becoming a CloudAlly partner today.

Contact Us about how to add our cloud backup solution to your services and increase your profits.

The Disgruntled Employee Insurance Policy

Cloud to cloud backups is imperative for a disgruntled employee insurance policy

The worst part of management and running a business is having to fire an employee. It’s never an easy process. Worse yet, sometimes the employee refuses to exit gracefully. For example, one large organization recently lost over 50,000 Salesforce records when a disgruntled employee returned to her desk and began deleting thousands of accounts and contacts.

It might seem like a nightmarish scenario that only occurs once in a lifetime but, according to recent research, it’s not that rare. Data loss is a fact. 77% of companies that use SaaS applications have suffered data loss, according to a recent survey by Dell. And, one in every two employees is likely to delete vital data either accidently or purposely.

So, what’s your insurance policy when the worst happens? Doing nothing about your lost data isn’t a solution.

As an HR executive, it’s in your best interest to safeguard a smooth transition between old and new employees. This can’t be achieved without your IT department—they are crucial in helping your team manage the smooth off and on boarding of employees—but convincing them of what’s needed may not be easy.

Many IT departments believe that the Office 365 Recycle Bin is the solution. Unfortunately, the recycle bin is very limited in its capabilities and isn’t reliable. It only offers short-term protection for deleted items and any user can hard delete or purge the recycle bin making its use obsolete. In the case of the Salesforce records, the disgruntled employee permanently deleted all files from the computer—emptying the recycle bin and making it useless. In this case, if the company hadn’t used setup automated daily backups, the 50,000 accounts would have been lost for good.

Cloud to cloud backups can turn a potentially devastating loss into a minor inconvenience, and that’s where CloudAlly.com can help. Simply send this short, three-step guide to your MIS information technology experts and ask them if they can recover your employee files from Google Apps to Salesforce, Amazon S3, Office 365, and social media. If not, tell them to contact us and ask for special Enterprise discount on our Disgruntled Employee Insurance Policy.

3-Step Disgruntled Employee Insurance Policy Guide

To understand how cloud backups work with CloudAlly, take a look at these three easy steps to secure your business continuity.

Step 1: Set It Up

The first step to ensuring your business is protected from resentful employees is to set up automated daily backups of your data. You have to take control of your online and software data to ensure that it’s secure. CloudAlly’s quick, easy, and customizable cloud to cloud backup service lets you, in just a few clicks, choose your archive location, backup times, and frequencies. This means that you can choose the backup plan that works best for you.

Even better, when you setup your automated daily backups with CloudAlly, you can choose who you want to activate the service for. You can activate backups for every employee in your business or just for selected users. All you need are admin credentials to setup every feature exactly as you want it.

Step 2: Manage It

Once you have your cloud backups setup, it’s a simple process to manage it. CloudAlly puts the safety of your business first with internal controls and audits that help you remain compliant with any and all data privacy requirements. Even better, all of the data in the global environment is yours. This means that you can access a daily report with all the details of your backup activity.

CloudAlly also makes it easy to manage new users. Our software can automatically detect new users, or you can manually add them yourself so that your business is protected from every employee from day one. And when those employees leave your business, you can export their backups and close their accounts for local archiving.

Step 3: Access It

Finally, no backup service would be complete without being able to access your data. When you use CloudAlly, there’s no need to worry about lost or corrupted data. Our cloud to cloud backups keep all of your deleted and modified files easily accessible. Within minutes, you can find, restore, and export archived data from any point in time (based on the frequency of your backup setup). And, for those times when you’re not really sure what happened or when CloudAlly allows you to quickly search for and locate data within your archives.

And, while you hope you never have to perform a full restore, CloudAlly makes it simple to perform non-destructive restores. All you have to do is download the full backup, which will never accidently overwrite your original file, and export it to your local machine. With CloudAlly, nothing is ever deleted, meaning your can gain access to any file no matter how far back you need to go.

When it comes to securing your business continuity, it’s as simple as 1..2..3. If you want to learn more about creating a disgruntled employee insurance policy, view our Cloud to cloud Backup Office 365 Case Study and sign up for our FREE 15-day trial.

Google Vault Backup Vs CloudAlly Amazon AWS Backup

Google Vault Backup

Being a readily available add-on for Google Apps, Google Vault could be a potentially good data protection and backup alternative. Google Vault Backup is necessary in any constellation.

But, does it provide a complete data protection solution with backup or recovery from any point?

And, how does it measure up against CloudAlly, which is a leading provider of cloud-to-cloud backup and recovery services?

In this article, we take a look at the features offered by Google Vault and CloudAlly, along with their pros and cons.

The objective is to do a direct comparison of these services to understand which one is more suitable for the protection of Google Apps data.

Things to Look for in a Google Apps Data Protection Plan

To be able to compare CloudAlly and Google Vault, we first need to understand what should be considered when selecting a suitable data protection service or tool.

First of all, the service should be able to search the data and export any data that is required on site.

It should also be possible to restore individual items and to restore complete user accounts from any point in time.

Now, let us check out the details of the two popular backup services for Google Apps.

Google Vault Backup

Google Vault is a powerful add-on provided by Google that allows your enterprise to retain, search, store and export emails or chat messages for quick discovery and compliance requirements.

It collects all email correspondence that comes into and goes out of your company. It thus empowers your administrators to locate or search for any email item, whenever required.

For messages, it is possible to place a “hold” at the company level or account level.

For this purpose, your company administrators need to specify the keyword and date for the messages to be included under the “hold”.

The advantage of this is that you can retain the data until the “hold” period expires or until it is removed by the administrators.

While the “hold” is active, the end user cannot change or even delete the data covered under the “hold”. This type of “hold” is pretty useful for lawyers for litigation purposes.

How to Access the Vault Data?

Your company administrator needs to carry out a search to spot particular data items and export them. Once they are exported, the items can be downloaded in a compressed file to use with any email program or even text editor. 

Limitations

Google Vault Backup may be able to search your data or files on Google Drive, but it cannot retain them. So, if any of the Google Drive files is deleted accidentally, it will not be able to help you recover them.

In fact, it cannot offer a point-in-time recovery for any of the popular Google Apps, such as Calendars, Contacts, and Drive.

As mentioned earlier, the Vault can hold data at the account level, but the Vault data cannot be restored directly back to the account of the end user.

If any user (account) of Google Apps is deleted, all the corresponding data will be removed along with the removal of Vault. This is because the Vault repository is maintained within the Gmail account of a user.

Summary

It is important to note that Google Vault was only designed for e-discovery and compliance. It can thus only retrieve individual emails or chat messages and does not offer full-fledged backup and recovery functionality for all Google Apps.

You can avail this service at $5 per month ($60 per year) for each Vault user.

CloudAlly Secure Amazon AWS Backup

CloudAlly is a comprehensive backup and recovery service for all Google Apps data. It is a highly reliable, cloud-based data backup service.

Along with Google Apps, it also offers automated daily backups of Office 365, SharePoint/OneDrive for Business, Salesforce, Box for Business and more to an unlimited Amazon secure storage.

Your organization’s administrator can activate the backups for all Google Apps users (falling under one domain) or individual users with a single click.

Also, in the case of any data loss, restoration and data export is possible with a single click. You are thus able to quickly recover your Google Apps data from any point in time.

Backup

With CloudAlly, there is no limitation to the storage and it offers unlimited retention of daily archives. This allows for backups on a daily basis and helps to considerably reduce the on-premises storage requirements.

If that was not enough, CloudAlly also empowers you to control all your backups from a single management console.

This clearly saves a lot of time by getting rid of the admin processes that require too much manual effort.

With regard to the backups taken using CloudAlly, they continue to be available to you, even after any Google Apps user (account) is deleted.

They only cease to exist when the administrator removes them. It is, therefore, possible for your company to archive user backups for an indefinite amount of time by using the “backup pause” feature of CloudAlly.

Restore

When the need arises to restore any data at an individual item level or at any higher level (folder, mailbox and more), you can simply search your CloudAlly backups.

The restored data is generally stored with a date and time stamp in a sub-folder named “CloudAlly Restore”.

Unlike Google Vault, it is possible to restore the data directly to the user’s account. In fact, you can even restore it back to a different user account, if there is such a requirement.

Export

CloudAlly enables you to export data (which has been backed up) in various formats, including .vcf, .eml. Data can also be exported in .pst format, which is compatible with the commonly used email platform in enterprises, namely Outlook.

Data Security and Compliance

You can be sure about the adherence to data security and customer confidentiality best practices, as CloudAlly is Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant and ISO 27001 certified.

CloudAlly takes care of data security laws to such an extent that you are given the choice to opt for servers based in the U.S. (by default), EU or Australia.

Summary

With the most comprehensive backup and recovery features on offer, CloudAlly proves itself to be a leading provider of cloud-to-cloud backup and recovery services.

It is ideal for the protection of your Google Apps data with Gmail, Calendars, Tasks, Contacts, Chat and Google Drive!

You can avail the CloudAlly services at $3 per month ($30 per year) for every Google Apps user. What is more, you can even explore their services on a free trial basis for around 15 days.

If you have a non-profit or academic organization, you will even get special discounts from CloudAlly.

We hope that the above comparison of Google Vault Backup and CloudAlly enables you to make an informed decision when selecting your ideal Google Apps data protection tool.

5 Things to Consider when Creating a Cloud Usage Policy

Cloud Computing for Cloud for Backup is essential for business activities

Cloud computing serves as a major tool for enabling a collaborative work environment and has become the norm in almost all companies. But, adopting cloud solutions is still viewed as a fresh and new concept in many organizations and there seems to be very few or no standard policies and procedures to regulate cloud usage. This places a great risk on the success of cloud adoption because data placed in the cloud will always be vulnerable unless it is protected by strong cloud usage policies.

Also, if you are willing to do something, you better do it right: formulate the right usage policy and procedures to make the migration to the cloud a truly successful venture. Consider that cloud for backup is imperative as well.

Here are the greatest concerns that you must address, while you create a cloud usage policy for your organization:

1. User Access Levels

If you plan to implement strong authentication and authorization mechanisms to access the cloud, then

you must already have a strong definition of the various access levels and privileges that each employee in your organization will have. For instance, IT heads may have a greater need for certain data which are irrelevant for a project manager and vice versa.

Make use of privilege principles and fine-grained access levels to determine who can access a particular piece of data or application placed in the cloud and when can they do so. This will depend on your company’s organizational structure, staff hierarchy, and workflow.

2. Training

Migrating to the cloud mandates that at least a basic level of training should be given to your employees.

The extent of the training will depend on the various parameters of the cloud and the specific types of documents and applications that your employees will be using through the cloud.

Your employees need to have a good understanding of how the cloud and data flow work within the cloud environment to be able to take proactive steps in protecting the confidential data. They should also be cognizant of the rules of using the cloud, such as the password policies and access levels that you have established for regulating cloud usage. Training is greatly needed to make this possible.

3. Persistence of Data

This is an important parameter that you need to consider before moving your documents and sensitive information to the cloud.

There has to be a predetermined lifespan for all data that you move to that cloud because you never know when a small leak could happen which could expose sensitive data to unwanted interceptors.

You might even forget about the existence of certain data which may prove to be harmful in the long run. Even if you allow non-confidential data to reside in the cloud indefinitely, confidential data should always be accompanied by a timestamp to avoid complications in the future. The chances are that you may change your cloud service provider or you may move to some other means for collaboration.

The cloud is never permanent and you should always make sure your data resides in the cloud only for as long as it is used. You can include this timing specification in your cloud usage policy.

4. Legal Issues

There are certain data that must never be made public and there are certain other data which you should never have in your possession. For instance, sensitive information like health data must not be placed in a public cloud domain and you cannot illegally store your competitor’s data in your cloud.

The frequency and duration of cloud usage may also fall under certain legalities. Uploading corporate data into a public cloud site is also considered inappropriate. Similarly, downloading company data onto personal drives may also be considered an offense. You must make sure to include all of the legal compliances that your company must adhere to in your cloud usage.

5. Backups

Mishaps can happen anytime and you must always be ready for the worst. But, the sad truth is that many organizations only realize the need for backup solutions  after an incident and when they have already paid for the loss.

Many cloud service providers do not offer cloud for backup unless asked and may not even have proper backup systems in place. They may have it for themselves, but if you store your data on the cloud, then you are responsible for it.

If you have not installed backup systems earlier, getting back lost data can be very expensive and difficult. Hence, it is best to be on the safer side and include backup procedures and policies in your cloud usage policies.

One way to deal with this problem is using cloud-to-cloud backup solutions that have been proven very useful for data recovery during failures.  But, you need to be careful about these solutions too, because, once again, you are replicating your data into another cloud and you will need proper management and policies to maintain the backup cloud.

There is always a risk of data leakage when it comes to the cloud and your usage policy must address it along with the other issues already mentioned.