Cloud Computing & the Data Dilemma

cloud computing

Gone are the days of floppy disks and portable hard drives, the age of cloud based storage is upon us. The ability to backup, store and sync data across multiple devices has radically changed the way we use technology for both personal and business purposes. If you are not onboard the cloud storage train, you need to be. Adopt, postpone or ignore? The question we all must ask ourselves when faced with a continuous stream of new technologies. This question is all the more poignant when it has to do with private data. Organizations were initially slow to adopt cloud computing, not only because it was an entirely new concept, but for perceived security risks associated with cloud storage However, as the technology has advanced and the security concerns have lessened, businesses across a host of industry sectors have been implementing the technology at an astounding rate and their organizations have been reaping the rewards of the resulting efficiencies.

Big data: the new frontier The term is used to describe a collection of data sets so large and complex it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications. According to research conducted by MGI and McKinsey’s Business Technology, analyzing large data sets – so called big data – will become paramount to competition, underpinning new waves of productivity growth, innovation and consumer surplus. Hilary Kramer, one of Wall Street’s top equity analysts and investment managers, points to cloud based technology for answers to the growing data dilemma. In a recent Forbes article Kramer writes about the “need to be able to sift through, maintain and catalogue every bit of information that comes to and from an enterprise – from e-mail to PDFs to streaming video.” The cloud, an Internet service that utilizes remote servers to store and process information, has the ability to organize and archive massive amounts of data, while reducing the need for expensive hardware to store data onsite.

Small business to big government Small and large business’ alike, are moving toward cloud-based storage, and according to Kramer, governments should do the same. In response to American Presidential Directive M-12-18, that requires “federal agencies manage both permanent and temporary email records in an accessible electronic format by 2016,” the US Department of the Interior (DOI) is looking to the clouds. Privately owned, Washington based company, IQ Business Group (IQBG), is boldly leading the DOI into the world of 21st century technology. The company, that provides cloud based solutions for managing big data, signed an eight-year $53 million contract and is expected to save the DOI $100 million annually. The platform, known as the eMail, Enterprise Records, and Document Management System (eERDMS), captures and auto-classifies an astounding 75 million e-mails per month. In just 45 days IQBG had eERDMS up and running. The impressively short amount of time it took to go live is demonstration enough of the advantages of cloud based solutions. IQBG’s CEO, Michael Beck predicts a broader shift of government spending on cloud based governance solutions in the near future. His company has experienced a triple digit annual growth rate of late.

The elephant in the room The issue of security is a recurring source of hesitation amongst IT managers when it comes to the cloud-based solution shift. In an age where hacker headlines are commonplace consumers, businesses and governments alike are on edge. Beck contends that the platforms IQBG provide for its clients have security features equivalent to “Fort Knox.” Private clouds – implemented within the corporate firewall - as used by the DOI, are always an option. There is no way around it, cloud computing is of the most significant trends in IT today. Organizations of all sizes are evaluating various cloud computing solutions to help improve their performance. Among the proven benefits are increased productivity, lowered cost and improved reliability. With the benefits are several outstanding kinks, many of which are security related. If government agencies, to which security is paramount, trust cloud-based storage systems, organizations with less sensitive data may be more inclined to make the same transition. Perhaps the question is no longer whether or not to adopt the cloud, but rather, which one is best for you and your business? Check in next week for a comparison of the market’s top storage clouds.