Sydney, Australia, March 7, 2013
– According to Ralf Moller, General Manager Marketing for CargoWise, millions of dollars are being spent worldwide to convert former factories, warehouses and bank vaults into repositories for a commodity more valuable than gold: data.
“These repositories, or data centers, are built with extensive environmental conditioning systems, multiple power and telecommunication feeds, and physical security systems which rival even the most secure bank vaults,” Moller says. “These data centers are designed to protect something more valuable than cash or diamonds. Although we simply think of it as data, it’s ultimately the commodity which powers the global economy.”
Much of the worlds’ data however, is not located in secured data centers; it remains shoehorned into a basement or spare closet. While that may have seemed like the best place to set up the company‘s servers when they were first purchased 10 or 15 years ago, says Moller, the data they contain is now dangerously insecure.
“Over the next three years many of these small, stand-alone computer rooms will be decommissioned as the information they hold is shifted to newer, larger, more secure and more efficient data centers that are being built around the world,” Moller says. “This transition from running your software on servers in your own office, to hosting and storing it in a purpose-built facility is a little like the decision your grandparents made to take their cash to the bank and open an account rather than keeping it under their mattress or in a safe hidden in the wall.”
While cloud computing is often depicted in an excessively complex manner, Moller says its simply an opportunity to protect and process your data in large secure facilities, which will ultimately be safer and less costly than anything you could possibly provide at your own offices. “Having your own data stored in your own offices made sense when there was no viable alternative. Today, however, we are more dependent than ever on our computer systems, and business owners have to seriously consider how safe and available their data is,” Moller says. “What would happen if you were locked out of your offices for a week due to severe flooding? What if your computers were destroyed by fire? Could your business continue to operate if there was a power outage in your area?”
Although most of us personally at some time or another have experienced a disk crash with loss of data, loss of working documents, photos or contacts, Moller points out that a data or communications failure in a business can be catastrophic. Data failure always leads to revenue loss and in many cases causes the business to fold completely.
“Many of us already know the relief of logging into Hotmail, Gmail or your internet banking to find all is well. Their data is, of course, housed in “The Cloud” and as a result is simply more reliable than the hard disk in your PC under your desk,” Moller says. “Cloud computing makes it possible for you to continue to operate through disasters, and typically, at a cost that can be far less than what it costs you to buy and run your own servers.”
Over the next 12 months Moller believes the question regarding the cloud will switch from “what is it,” to “which cloud service provider should I use?” Figuring that out means asking a few questions regarding safety, power and communications. The following five points should be the first things you ask any cloud computing service provider; whether they are offering to host your existing software, or providing a new software service which they host for you. How secure is the power supply? The quickest way to shut down a data center is to cut the power supply, so the best data centers draw power from at least two separate sources.What is the underlying communications infrastructure? Ideally, a data center should have at least two communications connections, so that if one fails the other continues to function.What disaster recovery plans does the provider have in place? Having all your data located in a single data center, even if it is the safest data center in the country, is still a bad idea. Ensure the data is continually backed up and replicated at other sites.What measures are taken to provide physical security? This is easy to overlook, but even the most secure digital system can be compromised if it’s easy to get in through the front door.What measures are taken to ensure privacy and digital security? Make sure you know who has access to your data, and how it’s being protected from cyber criminals.
“Just like your money, your data should be stored by a service provider you trust,” Moller summarizes. “And although we all know it’s crazy to keep our money under our pillow, what many people are beginning to realize is that it’s also unwise to keep our data under your desk, down the hall, or in a closet.”
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