By the DynaSis Team
We have watched with interest what could be called “Storage Wars: Cloud Edition.” In this production, treasure hunters aren’t trying to outbid each other for locked storage containers. Instead, companies are working to figure out how the cloud can help them store and access files for better productivity and mobility. Although the cloud can be powerful for many reasons, one of its greatest benefits is its “anytime, anywhere” nature, which enables remote file access, transfer, storage and backup for personnel using any device with an Internet connection.
Despite this fact, there is no consensus among business decision makers about cloud storage solutions. Adoption of the big mass-marketed services—Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive—is nearly evenly split (Dropbox leads, at 33%). However, many firms are uncertain if they should trust these services and don’t know if there are other, potentially better, choices.
Here is the scoop: There are numerous options for cloud storage, including custom solutions developed and administered by IT services firms. Some but certainly not all of these are more flexible, intuitive and/or configurable IT solutions than these “Big Three.” Many organizational leaders might assume that all these solutions are similar and use the same basic setup and logic, but that is not true. They differ in cost, security, ease of use, operating design and other variables. As a result, the search for a storage solution can be complicated and should be thorough.
Storage Selection Should Not Be Taken Lightly
Even apparently minor differences can make it more likely that one service creates greater risk exposure than another. File sharing is a prime example. Windows has a built-in mechanism for file sharing that, while not exactly easy to use, optimizes sharing for security over convenience. In short, only administrator-level owners of a folder can configure sharing, and they also decide who can access the folder—and what actions they can take with it.
One of the “Big Three,” which we won’t name, does not work that way for all versions. Its “business” solution has fairly robust sharing controls. However, its “basic” version handles sharing in a messy, risky fashion.
In this version, the folder’s owner (the effective administrator) does not have the ability to customize access. Anyone given access can share the folder with anyone else for viewing or even editing. Those users can take actions, such as moving folders that they do not own, that have serious ramifications. A simple drag and drop action, for example, can automatically break the connections that support folder sharing and synchronizing (populating file changes to all shared members) and no one is the wiser. Undoing the action does not fix the problem, and resending sharing invitations does not repair the synchronization damage.
Yet, 78% of employees in a corporate survey admitted using this version of the service outside of IT approval—and many businesses adopt it organizationally as a low-cost storage solution.
In summary, methodologies for sharing, as well as two other “S Words,” security and synchronization, are very important aspects of file storage. Unless they are configured effectively, they can put corporate assets at risk, not only of data theft but also of damage or loss—a function of data protection, which we talked about last week. As a result, we urge organizations to work with a reputable IT consulting or IT support company to evaluate, determine and configure the most appropriate storage solution. We don’t have room to provide specific recommendations now, but we’d be happy to “share” them with anyone who gives us a call.
DynaSis is an Atlanta IT services and cloud computing provider for small and midsized businesses. All of our solutions focus on helping companies achieve the three fundamental IT necessities of the modern business—availability, security and mobility. We specialize in on-demand and on-premises managed IT services, managed cloud infrastructure, desktops and backups, and professional hardware and equipment installation. For more information about DynaSis’ IT support and services, visit www.dynasis.com.
By the DynaSis Team
We recently saw an article on virtualization that also discussed “data protection.” That is not surprising, given that a Google search of the term “data protection” returns 269,000 results. What caught our attention was the use of those two words to describe protecting corporate data from loss or corruption. While that is the traditional technology definition of data protection, it is different than data security, which is protecting your data from unauthorized and/or inappropriate access, storage or use by insiders or outsiders.
This distinction has been muddied recently by issues surrounding data privacy. One example is the demise of “Safe Harbor”– a policy agreement that governed how U.S. entities would handle the data of European Union (EU) citizens. The agreement expired and is being replaced with a new approach, Privacy Shield, which you can read about here. Articles about it, and the negotiations between the U.S. and EU, often referred to “data protection” as a quick way of saying “ensuring data privacy through clearly defined safeguards.”
The Scoop on Data Protection
To set the record straight from a technology perspective, data protection is a collective term for a firm’s plan to evaluate, catalog and protect information assets from application/user/machine malfunctions and errors, malware or other detrimental software, and facility outages/disruptions. Data protection encompasses such efforts as backup, storage and recovery.
As mentioned above, data protection also includes preventing or limiting data loss due to malware attacks. However, for the purposes of this definition, it doesn’t include data privacy or intrusion detection/prevention. Those efforts are vital to organizational safety, but from the viewpoint of an IT support company, they fall under the category of data security.
When managed properly, either in-house or through a managed services provider, data protection should include data lifecycle management (DLM). With DLM, organizations proactively control data not only during its effective useful life but also afterward, when they no longer need ongoing access to it but may be required to maintain it for compliance or other requirements. DLM covers data archiving as well as data disposal in a manner that does not allow its retrieval.
Data protection can also include such efforts as continuous data protection (CDP), where automated technology updates enterprise backups as changes to the primary systems are made. Backup generally occurs on a schedule that corresponds to the business owner’s risk tolerance, which might mean truly continual backup or could involve taking a “snapshot” of the data every hour, day or even week.
Data protection is a big, complicated and important topic requiring an in-depth IT solution, so we will discuss it frequently, sharing news we come across. Next week, we’ll discuss desktop virtualization, a type of virtualization that be a boost to data protection, when configured properly.
Specializing in managed IT services and network security, Atlanta based DynaSis has been supporting small to midsized business for almost a quarter century. Among the services we provide are cloud computing through the DynaSis Business Cloud, 24 x 7 x 365 helpdesk support, and real-time monitoring enabling us to deal with “issues” before they become problems. For more information, please call DynaSis at 678.218.1769 or visit www.DynaSis.com.
By the DynaSis Team
In the current corporate landscape, business continuity requires ongoing access to important company files, no matter what. No longer are customers willing to wait a week to receive a quote for a job or to have their order confirmed. The world operates in real time, and customers expect the businesses with which they work to do the same.
This need is leading many business owners to rely on real time data storage solutions that could actually hamper their business continuity in certain situations. To illustrate this point, let’s consider Dropbox—one of the most popular file storage services on the planet. Dropbox is an inexpensive way for organizations to store and share files among employees, customers and other authorized individuals. However, Dropbox has serious limitations from a business continuity perspective.
Dropbox has an easy-to-use mechanism to help users recover deleted files—or restore older versions—for up to 30 days (up to a year with Dropbox for Business Accounts). It also has redundant servers protecting customer data in the event Dropbox itself experiences a server failure.
However, for company personnel to make the most effective use of Dropbox, they must sync some or all company files to their local computing devices. To do this, during setup they tell Dropbox what data they want to store and sync locally. Most users share and sync folders rather than individual files, and these can become enormous over time as other users add files to them.
If local devices lack enough storage to stay in sync, Dropbox will stop syncing and prompt the users to reevaluate their Dropbox allocations, a process that wastes time and drains productivity. When users don’t have time or knowledge to manage those allocations, many will save their files locally, planning to upload them to Dropbox later. When that doesn’t happen, the entire system falls apart, along with any pretense of having a complete backup.
Second, most file storage and sharing services such as Dropbox (and Google Drive) do not offer end-to end-security. Files stored with them are encrypted on those servers, but they're not locally encrypted on the computers where they originate before being synced to the cloud, which also means they are not encrypted during transit. If a hacker has access to a user’s account or has penetrated the corporate network, he or she could easily steal company data unless the firm is using local encryption, which is a rarity.
The advanced file backup solutions offered by companies such as DynaSis will eliminate both of these challenges, and they can incorporate on-demand file access and sharing, as well. Productivity is maximized, and concerns about local PC and backup continuity are resolved.
In today’s threat laden environment, data protection is king, and ensuring it is appropriately secured and replicated is essential. We’re not saying that companies should avoid online file storage and sharing. Rather, we’re suggesting that business owners should work with a competent IT advisor that can help them determine exactly which file storage, sharing and backup solutions are right for their environments.
DynaSis is an Atlanta IT services and cloud computing provider for small and midsized businesses. All of our solutions focus on helping companies achieve the three fundamental IT necessities of the modern business—availability, security and mobility. We specialize in on-demand and on-premise managed IT services, managed cloud infrastructure, desktops and backups, and professional hardware and equipment installation. For more information about DynaSis’ IT support and services, visit www.dynasis.com.