Ask any company executive what they consider to be their most important asset, and you’re likely to get the same answer: their people and their data.
While holding onto people depends on your culture, holding onto your data depends on your IT strategy in an increasingly data-driven world.
The value of data in business
Data is the new business currency. We gather it, we mine for it, we create it, we improve it — yet to do all these things, we need access to it. The moment we lose access to our data, business comes to a screeching halt. When transactions stop moving, customer satisfaction drops along with your business revenue. And yeah, lawsuits can happen.
If there’s one thing everyone in IT can agree on, it’s that losing data or access to it can be a very bad thing.
Data ownership in the Cloud: Handing over the keys to your data
Given how important our data is to us, it’s frightening how much of it we give to a handful of providers on both the consumer and business side of our lives.
Take for example a major music reseller/storage provider. In recent years, if you ripped your physical music CDs and placed them in an online repository, you probably found out later that some of your music is no longer accessible. The End User License Agreement (EULA) of these providers could allow them to deny owners access or even remove content at their discretion. So if you got rid of your original media, that data is gone. At least to you.
In 1991, a savvy executive gave me a piece of sage advice, and it has become more relevant the older I get: “Never forget the Golden Rule. He who has the gold, makes the rules.” As soon as your data is no longer yours to control, you have no real control.
This is just the tip of the iceberg as it relates to data ownership in the cloud. I am not a lawyer (although you can get their advice on cloud contracts here); I am only a nerd trying to make sense of the national and international legal noise that is eventually going to be law, including the EU’s GDPR. The implementation of these laws will be regional, which, in our digital age, will be more difficult to enforce.
Not as sunny as you think in the cloud
There are a lot of factors that remain vague when you opt to put data in the cloud. Think about this: you may enter into a contract with primary cloud provider “X”, and at that point, everything seems to be in order. But what happens when part of your data is farmed out to a secondary or tertiary cloud provider in another location, were the laws are not in your favor? Or, what happens when an international incident happens that may cause you to have limited or no access to your content?
Scarier still, you may currently own your data, but the metadata used to manage your content (this is not defined as a standard) is not yours! Your intellectual property is immediately at risk as the cloud provider can do anything they want with the metadata. The deeper you dig, the more of a mess this whole subject becomes. This doesn’t even include the risks of hacks and ransomware which bring their own set of headaches, as we discuss here.
Cloud vs. local storage: Being data-savvy in a data-driven world
I’m not saying that a cloud strategy is foolhardy — but there are a number of risks that need to be evaluated besides the traditional planning stages and technology considerations that you normally make.
My advice, based on a technology career that began in 1991 and focused on the storage market since 2000, is this: Do not give up all your on-premises assets. At the very least, keep one local copy of your core data protected and within your control.
A cloud strategy can still be part of a business solution, but don’t give away the keys to the kingdom. And if you want to learn how to keep the best of both worlds, give us a call.