Data Security and Moving to the Cloud

It is no secret that cloud-based systems and applications are increasingly popular across enterprises in all industries today. According to PwC’s recent US Cloud Business Survey, 74% of business leaders are engaged in a cloud strategy and 56% of executives see the cloud as a strategic platform for growth and innovation. Business leaders across the C-suite see the cloud’s critical role in both defining and achieving their company’s growth and operational ambitions. And they have high expectations for process innovation and improved organizational performance.

Despite enthusiasm for the possibilities, however, analysts warn that only about half of companies today have captured measurable value from the cloud. This gap between possibility and reality is clearly reflected in PwC’s survey. “We’re still in the early stages of a cloud sea change,” say PwC analysts. “This will be a significant change in which thinking, doing, and innovating are accelerated across the business. After all, the cloud is not a singular destination — it’s a dynamic fabric that drives resiliency, agility, and lasting transformation.”

 Cloud Security

One major concern about “going to the cloud” is data security. Traditionally, organizations have been hesitant to relinquish control of their most sensitive data, instead choosing to remain in control of information housed behind corporate firewalls. But is an on-premises approach really more secure?  A growing number of executives and IT professionals believe that a cloud-based approach is indeed better. According to Gartner, more than 85% of organizations will embrace a cloud-first principle by 2025.

A Hybrid Approach

Despite the compelling possibilities, it is not realistic to assume that organizations will wholly replace their current in-house content repositories overnight in favor of a cloud-only approach. As a result, many organizations are adopting a hybrid approach that leverages the best of both worlds in what could be called a mash-up of on-premises infrastructure, private cloud services, and a public cloud.

The cloud has proven to be especially valuable as organizations have had to adapt nearly overnight to the trend toward work-at-home. The advantage is that it allows data and content to move between private repositories and public clouds in a more flexible way as business needs and workflows change, ultimately giving the organization greater flexibility and more options for content deployment and use.

Three Best Practices

How should you move forward? When operating in a hybrid cloud environment it becomes even more important to have a strong records management foundation to provide the basis for your efforts. Here are three best practices to consider.

Evaluate the Data You Have – Before you do anything it is important to evaluate the data you have currently, where it is located, and what risk/value it represents to the organization. From there, what can be eliminated? Then, what is the plan for the data you must retain? How long must you keep it, where, and why?

Prioritize Migrations and Retention Based on your Assessment – With an assessment in hand you are in position to make better decisions about your information management approach. Can you move this information to the cloud, or does it have some sort of requirement that compels you to keep it onsite? How long should you keep it? What do you do when the information has completed its lifecycle?

Ensure Flexibility in your Approach – As we’ve seen recently, business and technology conditions can change rapidly. Be sure you attain the kind of flexibility you need to respond quickly and with ease. Don’t get locked into systems and providers that take ownership of your data, or make it difficult to move your data to the cloud, back on site, and so forth.

Moving Forward

Organizations benefit from adopting a hybrid cloud approach. Keys to success include using thoughtful strategies that bring together the business needs of the organization along with the technological transformations that need to take place. As organizations continue to rethink business models, staffing, and workflow, a hybrid cloud approach becomes an attractive option for process innovation and improvements, while ensuring data security and compliance. Look for providers and partners with the right mix of expertise, capability, and vision that will help you make the most of your efforts.

is a guest contributor and the author of the book Designing a Document Strategy and a respected authority on document management and process improvement. He is the managing director of Craine Communications Group.