But there is a caution; not all cloud providers are created equal. Both Kevin and Panos say any business testing the cloud waters should assess the selected provider carefully. “It is a serious discussion. Analyse your requirements with your team. Know what makes sense to outsource, when to outsource it, and crucially, to whom.”
As more businesses rely on cloud technology – and in particular, SaaS applications handling sensitive financial information – absolute assurance of data security is necessary. After all, the paradigm is radically changed from data resident on a local hard drive or server.
“Serious attention should always be paid to the security of any computer network and the cloud is no exception,” says Kevin. “You should seek details from the vendors you work with and check them with a trusted advisor who is technically qualified and experienced. Know the risks, because everything has risk; with the cloud, accountants and other decision-makers need to understand where the data is hosted and the layers that protect your data.
The factors include security, privacy, data integrity, contractual clarity and protections, business continuity, process and system reliability, and even compliance with cross-jurisdictional regulations.”
Kevin adds, it is necessary to know the measures taken by the cloud platform providers, in depth. “For example, Microsoft spends over one billion US dollars a year on detecting cyber fraud, shutting down malicious schemes and educating and assisting authorities in bringing cyber criminals to justice.”
That’s far more than any single private company might allocate. “This doesn’t eliminate risk. But it goes a long way in mitigation.”
Finally, Panos says there is no better way to get going in the cloud than by giving it a try. “As a regular consumer, you’re already using cloud. It might seem different for your business, but it isn’t – there are many services you can try at no cost. You’ll quickly discover how easy, dependable and affordable it is.”
Kevin recommends checking a video overview of Microsoft’s Azure cloud. “Just search ‘Microsoft Global Datacenters and Network Infrastructure’ on YouTube. You’ll be amazed.”