Pros and Cons of Cloud Computing
For better or worse, cloud computing seems to be the wave of the future when it comes to document storage and retrieval. Getting worldwide access to any saved document at the touch of a button is now an easily achievable reality. Cloud computing isn't without its pitfalls, however. Relying on an entirely electronic network brings a host of security and accessibility concerns that must be addressed.
The great promise of cloud computing is that data is accessible at any time, from anywhere, by any authorized person. With the proper access and log-in credentials, any worker can share or transmit files across the globe. A business traveler need not carry loads of documents or data on a trip — the needed information can be retrieved from the cloud at the appropriate time.
The problem with this universal accessibility is that it's dependent on functioning electronic networks. If the Internet is down, either at the point of access or with the cloud computing company itself, your data becomes irretrievable. Similarly, a power outage or battery failure could prevent access to cloud-based information.
Security and Disaster Recovery
Cloud computing can provide many security benefits over traditional storage. When there's no in-house data, a hacker can't penetrate a company's network and access sensitive documents. Similarly, a hard drive crash or other computer failure won't damage any of a company's proprietary information.
On the downside, security and disaster recovery no longer lies within the control of the originating company. The cloud storage contractor now becomes responsible for the protection of the data it hosts. While a diligent in-house cyber-security and network development team could possibly protect company information, a company has to trust its provider instead when it stores data in the cloud.
All business services come with a cost and cloud storage is no exception. By choosing to store data in the cloud, a company gives up the need for expensive in-house servers, which can amount to a huge upfront cost. Storing data in the cloud is an ongoing expense, rather than a one-time deal.
Ultimately, the ongoing cost of maintaining data in the cloud may outweigh the cost of in-house storage and security. This may be especially true for consumers or small businesses that don't generally pay for servers or large amounts of hard drive storage.
Manageability and Portability of Data and Systems
Managing the infrastructure of an in-house, software-based storage system can create all types of headaches for a business. In addition to the cost of maintaining additional staff just for the systems, glitches can disrupt productivity at every level of the company. Handing this responsibility over to a cloud-based provider removes all these difficulties and is a definite plus.
By using an outside company to maintain data, a company limits the portability and compatibility of this data with other applications. Typically, a provider will lock a company into a service for a specified period, during which time it can be hard to move the data to a different company. Additionally, the infrastructure used by an outside company could cause compatibility issues with cloud applications based on other platforms.