Cloud security in a nutshell
We’ve all seen and heard the hype – the cloud is the greatest thing since sliced bread! But what exactly is the cloud? Are there different types and which one is secure enough for professional services firms to trust?
A useful definition of the cloud for business owners is as a business consumption model rather than a technology. The cloud provides a model of consuming IT services that is radically different from how it was done previously.
In the early days bureaus used mainframes to offer to process clients computing work. Then in the 80’s Microsoft decentralised the model offering PCs combined with “mini-mainframe” servers in back rooms. It was a much more efficient way to use and pay for computing resources.
Now we are seeing the cloud provide a new consumption model where businesses manage their onsite computers (eg. PCs, tablets, smartphones, scanners and printers) and outsource the critical business application server hosting and data management to IT professionals for a monthly fee.
This monthly subscription provides access to more than just data and applications. Support, redundancy, security maintenance, upgrades, advice, resource scalability and usage flexibility are all available for a single monthly fee.
Different Types of cloud?
The two most important types of cloud are public and private.
A typical public cloud is provided to users via a web browser with a single login point for all users (eg. xero.com/login). It will also store all client data within one large database that all clients share. Client data is managed within the single database in such a way to ensure access is limited to the correct logins.
However, a private cloud is provided to users via a unique login mechanism/location (eg. virtual private network login) and data is stored in a completely separate database and/or server. This ensures that your data is totally segregated from other clients on the cloud provider’s system and means data is as secure and private as possible while still taking advantage of the benefits of the cloud.
Which is best for professional services firms?
Professional services firms do need to ensure a higher level of privacy and security than your average small business or consumer. This has held them back from adopting public cloud services but law and accounting firms as well as health care providers are also more and more needing to leverage cloud computing to manage costs, reduce risk and allow for growth.
This is where the private cloud can help. A private cloud provides for both higher levels of data separation, security and privacy as well as typical cloud benefits like mobile access, backups, redundancy and pay-per-month IT.
So ultimately if you operate a professional services firm in fields like a law, accounting or health care then a private cloud will always be the most secure option.
Habitat3 is a specialist in providing private cloud services to professional services firms. Please contact us to find out how we can help transition your firm to our private cloud.
More about John Perkins
John is the founder and a Director of Habitat3 and is responsible for working with existing and potential clients to ensure Habitat3’s service offerings continue to meet the needs of professional services firms. John is a former IT journalist, holds an MBA in IT strategy and has worked within the IT industry for 20 years.