9 things you need to know before you store data in the cloud

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff


The amount of electronic information (e.g., documents, images, emails, videos) organizations produce is staggering. Storing all your digital data in your data center can be expensive. That's why cloud storage -- which often comes at a fraction of the cost of storing the information on-premises -- has become increasingly popular.

But before you think of storage in the cloud, you need to be sure to clearly identify your needs, says Chris Poelker, vice president, Enterprise Solutions, FalconStor Software, a provider of data protection, virtualization, backup, disaster-recovery and deduplication services. "Is high performance [and availability] important, or are you just looking to archive data?"

You should also do some research before choosing where to store your digital data, as not all cloud storage vendors (and service level agreements, or SLAs) are the same.

To help you determine if cloud storage is right for you, and find the right cloud storage provider, CIO.com asked dozens of data management and cloud storage experts. Following are their top nine tips for storing data in the cloud and choosing a cloud storage vendor -- as well as five questions to ask providers before you sign up with them.

1. Make sure the cloud vendor is up-to-date on data center and industry certifications. "The cloud storage provider [you choose should] be compliant with your industry's privacy and security compliance needs," such as HIPAA and PCI, says Karl Bickmore, president, CCNS Consulting, an IT outsourcing provider.

"Keep in mind that if your service provider encrypts your data, then the service provider can decrypt your data,"

-- Lawrence Garvin, SolarWinds

Also, make sure the vendor is in compliance with "new regulations, such as SSAE 16, which recently replaced SAS 70," says Raghu Kulkarni, CEO, iDrive, a provider of online backup services. "SSAE 16 is a critical audit standard, especially for companies with financial data and in public sectors, as well as other industries where data security and integrity is important."

2. Pick a provider that knows your industry. "Sometimes you cannot go wrong simply choosing the largest cloud providers based solely on reputation and longevity, but there is value in choosing a provider that understands your business [or industry]," says Mark Wojtasiak, segment marketing manager for Cloud at Seagate, a provider of storage solutions.

"Data storage needs differ from one industry to the next," Wojtasiak says. "Perhaps your business is in finance, healthcare or the media and entertainment industry. There are cloud storage providers that specialize, or at least have a keen understanding of your industry and the data you need to store," he says. "Such knowledge and understanding can make a huge difference."

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