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December 20, 2013

Guest Blog: Could you store all of your company data on your iPhone?

Edouard Doutriaux, sales director of northern Europe at LaCiel, talks to CBR about data storage solutions.

By Cbr Rolling Blog

LaCie Edouard

You might be surprised to know that in most cases all of the mission critical information of an organisation can be stored in less than 10GB of storage. To place that in context you could fit it all on to an entry level iPhone and still have room for a few movies!

Of course no sane organisation is going to do this and we strongly advise against such an approach, but the fact is when you strip away a lot of the non-essential data what you have is relatively small. We are all becoming more data hungry, the files we create and use are getting bigger and as a result our storage demands have increased exponentially in recent years.

At the same time the cost of storage has fallen. Many of us will have 256GB, 500GB and 1TB drives sitting on our desks (both in the office and at home) right now and 20TB NAS/Thunderbolt storage is within easy reach of businesses of all sizes.

However, when it comes to cloud storage one of the major concerns organisations have (along with security, credibility of the provider and where the data is stored) is cost. Undoubtedly, the cost of storing data is coming down, but the price of mirroring the many terabytes you have stored locally in the cloud, both now and in the future is going to be prohibitive to most IT Managers.

Why spend the time, money and effort backing up your constantly expanding data archive when all you really need is routinely safeguard your mission critical data. As I have explained in most cases that will be in the region of 10GB and that level of investment makes it affordable to all. Not only does this make good economic sense, it is also best practise with regard to your business continuity planning.

An important word of warning though! Not all cloud storage providers are equal and choosing a cloud storage provider based on the fact that you get higher volume of storage for lower cost might prove very expensive in the long-term.

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As individuals we have a tendency to prioritise convenience over security and privacy. Services such as Dropbox are great if you want to store and share photos with friends. However, if you work in the NHS or a legal firm for example, where confidentially is sacrosanct, then it is not fit for purpose if you want to share and store patient/client records. The risk of data loss or leakage and the subsequent damage to the reputation and trust of the organisation, as well as potentially costly penalties should be a big enough deterrent.

Put it simply, it is the difference between sending a postcard and a letter. Everyone responsible for the mailing of the postcard has the potential to read it (many of the cloud storage providers have a master key that they can call upon if needed to access data that is stored on their servers), but with a letter only the sender and the recipient can do so, the provider only knows that you have storage, but crucially no way of knowing what is stored.

As broadband speeds get faster, 4G network coverage continues to roll out across the country, the cost and capability to store higher volumes of data will also improve, but instilling best practise now in what you store and how you do so will pay big dividends in the long run.

Too often the debate is online versus offline but this should not be the case. Adopting a hybrid approach with the right cloud storage provider delivers the best of both worlds. It means that you can benefit from the peace-of-mind that the organisation’s essential data is protected in the cloud against any unforeseen eventualities, in keeping with any business continuity planning. Meanwhile, you can take advantage of the faster speeds and ever higher capacities of the wide range of off-line storage devices, whether it is network, desktop, mobile or USB key.

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