Cloud technology has become so integral to running a business that it’s easy to forget how we ever lived without it. Salespeople stream company videos from YouTube during meetings with leads, human resources managers organize company calendars in web browser apps, and almost everyone sends emails from cloud-based inboxes. But each additional cloud solution you use increases the chances that private company information ends up in the wrong hands.
Even with little or no IT background, you can evaluate a cloud solution’s security by understanding three basic classifications:
- Public cloud – Multiple users (sometimes thousands) have remote access to the same IT hardware. For example, when you attach a file to a Gmail message it’s stored on a hard drive with countless other email attachments from people all over the world.
- Private cloud – A single user or closed group has exclusive remote access to IT hardware. For example, only certain employees at a healthcare entity may be allowed access to a database of patient records.
- Hybrid cloud – End users enjoy a simple, unified interface while in the background company resources are segmented into separate private and public cloud solutions as well as on-site IT resources. For example, employees use a browser-based portal for internal messaging, scheduling, and file storage but each function operates on a different on-site or cloud platform.
Public options are often the cheapest, private solutions generally have the tightest security, and although hybrid clouds require the most upkeep, they combine the benefits of the other two choices with the added bonus of simplicity.
Assuming you have access to sufficient IT support, the choice is a simple one.
The case for moving to a hybrid cloud
The hardest part of maintaining a hybrid solution is scalability. Each additional cloud document, app, or platform adds to the system’s complexity exponentially. You wouldn’t have too much trouble controlling costs and security when your employees are hopping back and forth between two cloud tools. Unfortunately, today’s average employee juggles 10 apps.
A managed hybrid cloud solution from an IT services provider prevents a host of problems that would arise if you or your IT staffer built a jury-rigged web of systems. For example, a managed solution may include:
- Policies that prohibit users from moving sensitive information to unencrypted locations
- Cross-platform user management so you avoid paying for unnecessary accounts
- Risk assessments focused on the problems specific to your industry or location
There isn’t an off-the-shelf tool that provides these benefits. A cohesive and cost-effective hybrid cloud requires the expertise of a trained specialist to think critically and creatively about how to organize everything in a way that’s best for your business.
The hybrid route may be your only option
There are a handful of situations when your cloud options are out of your control. This is almost always the case for businesses in regulated industries, such as healthcare. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) mandates that all patient data is stored in private cloud environments but most organizations in the industry can’t avoid public platforms such as basic chat apps.
Companies subject to any form of regulatory compliance must find a way for public and private options to work together. The most economical approach for small- and medium-sized businesses facing this predicament is to work with a managed services provider (MSP) that can roll compliance and cloud support into an all-inclusive plan.
If hybrid cloud support for a flat monthly rate sounds like the right move for your organization, start by searching for MSPs that have experience in your industry. Then filter the list by providers that measure service downtime and keep it below certain thresholds, often mere seconds per day. Online Computers is a team of over 50 technicians who specialize in support for nonprofits, healthcare entities, educational facilities, and retail shops. If you’re still unsure how we can help, check out our library for free downloadable content for more information.
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