Cloud Computing or In-House
Over the last few years I have read many articles covering security of data and suggested cost savings of cloud data storage versus in house solutions and have carefully considered both options. The Covid-19 outbreak has led more companies to move to a cloud environment. So what are the benefits of cloud computing? Home workers are able to access data more readily, basically offering the advantage of accessing work documents from virtually any internet enabled device. Convenient? Yes of course. Risky? Definitely. Cost savings? Edging towards no. <!–more–>
Lets look a little deeper into these two issues. Having access to business data from users home computers and mobile devices introduces a huge security risk. Viruses etc. live on many home users devices including key-loggers. It is not beyond possibility that the device you are reading this article on has some form of infection. This scenario can lead to criminals obtaining your credentials hence accessing your business data. I have tried to word this simply, in fact it is more complicated than this but the professional criminals can do this, and there are so many out there believe me.
The second scenario being cost-savings. Some of my recent analysis has shown that it is very expensive to employ cloud server hosting such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services, coupled with the fact that in-house specialist administrators are still required along with other hardware and software resources. Are these cloud hosted servers secure? Anything connected to the internet introduces risk and comes at a price albeit financial or the security of data.
So to the in-house solutions. As I mentioned earlier, anything connected to the internet carries risk and the in-house solution is not exempt from this. Remote access is not quite as easy as the cloud hosted solution, but can certainly be much more secure if the planning and configuration has been executed correctly. However, the traditional method of just one forward facing (internet connected) server coupled with a tough VPN can give users secure access to business files, databases, telephone systems and any other services and bespoke applications that your business employs. This scenario may well restrict the devices that can connect to your VPN due to the necessity for VPN software, but as a business you actually have much more control hence the ability to deploy tight security measures.
Cost of in house solutions: Many IT departments over spec servers and storage which carries costs, but if the same care and attention is taken as you maybe would when specifying cloud resources and coupled with say a VMware virtualisation deployment, your costs would maybe surprise you as they are are often way cheaper than with cloud. Specialist administrators are obviously still required and this being the case for cloud also.
Conclusions: I personally believe when taking averything into consideration that the In-House solution wins hands down. I consider it to be cheaper than cloud, and much safer than cloud. I do think that the only people to really benefit from cloud computing are the extremely small companies with no real data security requirements, and also the one-man-band. The cloud being a do-it-yourself deployment.
I have kept this article simple because the debate could certainly be intense, but I do urge you to be cautious when making decisions about putting valuable and sensitive data in the cloud, and I would also urge you to perform an in depth risk analysis and consider costings very carefully.
Kevin Edwards (Titan Atlas Limited)