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Managing the Cloud for IT & HR Teams

Posted by on Jun 7, 2013

Cloud services are the latest rage for companies looking for cost savings and worker mobility. But many popular cloud services still leave open security gaps that could leave your company open to attack! IT and HR teams must proactively seek out truly private cloud services while maintaining proper security measures onsite. With proper IT policies and secure cloud solutions, companies of all sizes can enjoy the benefits of the cloud without worrying about data breaches. And with the right measures in place, private clouds can help soften the common cloud security concerns held by many cautious IT managers and HR teams.

Cloud management

Image courtesy of TechWireAsia.com

The main reason for the market shift towards cloud solutions boils down to tightening budgets and increased demands for employee productivity. As SMEs and large corporations quickly turn to the benefits of the cloud, HR policies will likely need to be updated. Traditional IT infrastructure is simply outdated and requires too large of a staff for companies to stay competitive and relevant. But trusting third party cloud providers with your business data and sensitive customer information can be risky unless you choose a truly private cloud provider. However, a quick look at the cost savings and convenience of the cloud show that the untapped benefits of the private cloud far outweigh the minor inconvenience of updating IT policies and making the switch.

Cloud savings

Infographic courtesy of Microsoft.com

In a recent survey of small businesses conducted by Brother International Corp., 75% of small businesses claimed that a crashed computer is more of a workflow disruption that a sick employee. While an individual employee can be responsible for quite a bit in a day, a downed computer means stalled productivity, lost data, and missed deadlines. As CEO of Eagle Feather Enterprises, Patrick Rardin says, “The consequences of a crash can leave a business operation fully exposed to the danger of costly system downtime and data recovery fees that come with technology failures…Hurricane Sandy, for example, cost businesses billions of dollars in downtime and lost revenues.” Data drives profits for many SMBs, so IT and HR teams must keep good systems in place to protect such data. Onsite servers are costly and require large IT teams for routine maintenance and upgrades. And in the case of a power outage, attack, or server crash, a company’s entire operations could be stalled, meaning severe loss of revenue and a damaged brand.

Cloud benefits

Image courtesy of IBM.com

A solution is found in private cloud storage. Private cloud backup services grant businesses unlimited remote and secure access at a much lower cost than owning servers onsite. As Gene Marks, the founder of The Marks Group, says, “Small businesses are really making heavy use of online backup…If your server goes down or there’s a fire, your stuff is stored somewhere else.” So in the case of a crash, businesses that employ private cloud services will have virtually no downtime as the cloud can be accessed from any approved device with the appropriate credentials. With Bring Your Own Device policies, even if company desktops are down, employees can maintain productivity through mobile devices and laptops.

According to John Wandishin, Vice President of Marketing at Brother, “Small businesses can use the cloud to store things, to retrieve things and to send things…Having your business in the cloud means if you need a contract or proposal you don’t need a PC to download it.” And in the event of a company-wide crash, businesses with smart scanners and printers that are plugged into the cloud can work around downed PCs by accessing and printing files straight from the cloud. As Wandishin says, “An all-in-one printer has the capability to go up in the cloud and pull down documents to print without using a PC…Scanners can connect directly to [the] cloud which keeps business moving.”

HR & Private Cloud Solutions

Along with the convenience and savings on IT the cloud provides, companies that engage in this technology can also streamline their human resource tasks. From payroll to hiring, more and more HR tasks are moving to the cloud. Cloud services have become the standard in affordable options for small businesses looking to leverage technology in their favor. With automatic updates and streamlined data-entry, the cloud also frees up staff from busywork. But IT managers and HR teams looking to make the switch to the cloud should still be cautious in regards to security. As Stephen Hayne, professor of computer information systems at CSU Fort Collins, says, “The cloud gives multiple entry points. Now you are vulnerable from everywhere, not just your tight layer of defense in your own organization.”

Many cloud services presenting themselves as “secure” still have massive vulnerabilities leaving company data open to hacking and even data mining. For businesses looking for absolute data security, an anonymous cloud storage and sync service like SpiderOak provides the benefits of the cloud along with complete data privacy. This service offers two-factor password authentication and 256-bit AES encryption so that sensitive user files and passwords stay private. Two-factor authentication is similar banking services that require a PIN to log on in addition to a password. For SpiderOak, users can submit their private code through SMS along with their individual encrypted password. Once logged in, users can store and sync files with complete anonymity, because this cloud service has “zero-knowledge” of user data and plaintext encryption keys, which are only stored on the user’s chosen devices. SpiderOak’s services are available for businesses of all sizes on Windows, Mac, and Linux, along with Android and iOS.

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