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5 hidden cloud storage costs and how you can avoid them

The floodgates for inexpensive cloud-based storage have opened. Software development company Symantec found in a recent survey that over 90% of businesses are either using or considering the usage of a cloud-based data storage solution. With companies of all shapes and sizes in a frenzy over cloud software, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of illusive hidden costs.

Businesses aren’t migrating to cloud platforms without good reason. Even on a basic level, it boasts a whole host of benefits that companies of all sizes can enjoy:

  • Reduced costs
  • A more a predictable operational expenditure
  • Simplification of the project management process
  • Improved risk management

When that 90% stat is up from 75% the previous year, a cloud storage solution should at least be on your mind. Rushing into a purchasing decision, however, isn’t the right way to go about it. In this article, we’re going to take you through some of the most common issues faced by cloud users and educate you on how you can avoid any unwelcome surprises with hidden costs.

1) Sign-off cloud solutions with your IT team

Rogue cloud implementation is where staff within a company apply and set up a cloud-based solution without getting IT approval. Although it seems like an obvious step to follow when doing something that directly affects the business’s IT department, a huge 74% of businesses using cloud software saw rogue cloud implementation within the last year.

Rogue cloud implementations rarely end well. Of that 74%, over 40% reported that confidential business information had been exposed via an unsecured network. A further 25% had reported that rogue cloud deployments had actually led to the theft of data or malicious account hijackings.

By letting your IT team do what they do best, you’ll be able to safely implement a cloud-based solution and avoid any of the sticky situations that can arise by doing it without the proper know-how. No matter how urgent your cloud requirements are, nothing is worth the business risk. As we’ve seen in the news over the past 10 months, data leaks can be very costly – you don’t want to be in that situation.

2) Set-up regular data backups

If you don’t think ahead, there’s a good chance that unanticipated issues are going to crop up. This is particularly relevant with cloud software. As companies rush through the decision-making process to get up and running on the cloud, they often forget to plan for events down the road. When they suffer data loss, it can sometimes be too late to recover it.

The survey showed that a shocking 43% of businesses said that they’d lost cloud data – that’s 36% of SMBs and 47% of enterprises. It didn’t stop there, however. An unbelievable 68% even experienced failures when trying to recover their business data from backups.

Even if you can recover it eventually, an inefficient backup and recovery process will cost your business precious time and can mean you miss important deadlines. In the business world, losing client data is the equivalent of ‘the dog ate my homework’, so don’t make the same mistake. Allow your IT team to discuss solutions with the cloud provider and ensure they set up a rigorous backup and recovery process prior to implementation. If you want to be extra cautious, it could even be worth running a few trials to make sure everything works smoothly.

3) Organise your cloud storage efficiently

It might sound strange, but even the ease with which cloud storage can be created produces more potential hidden costs, according to Dave Elliott, a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Symantec. One of the greatest benefits for cloud users is that they only have to pay for what they use. Sadly, this isn’t always true, especially if your cloud storage is poorly organized.

The majority of this issue stems from the sheer amount of duplicate data that both SMBs and enterprise businesses have on the cloud. By now deduplicating cloud data, you’re paying for 2 or more copies of the same thing. It’s not tricky to see that this is a waste of precious company budget. When only half of businesses admit that they actually deduplicate their data prior to upload, it’s clear to see that this is a widespread issue that you can easily avoid making yourself.

4) Keep on top of compliance and eDiscovery

The survey also found that 49% of businesses were unsure of compliance requirements and were concerned about whether they were meeting them. On top of this, 53% were concerned about how they could prove they’d met compliance requirements if the information was requested.

“Organizations are concerned about meeting their compliance obligations when it comes to data in the cloud”, says Elliott. “Even more so, they’re concerned about proving compliance as they move to the cloud. 23% of respondents have been fined for privacy violations in the cloud – that tells me that this is a bigger problem than most people have recognized.”

“As more and more data moves to the cloud globally, there’s more and more regulation about how that data needs to be managed. As you move to the cloud, you really need to think about compliance in the context of the overall organization.”

The survey also found that organizations are facing difficulties when it comes to eDiscovery. When requested, companies are obliged to provide copies of the information that they hold on the business, often within a tight deadline. According to the results, over 30% of organizations have received a request for cloud data, over 60% of which missed that deadline and received hefty fines. It doesn’t just stop with financial risk, however – missing eDiscovery deadlines can also put organizations at legal risk, so it’s imperative that you have a clear process regarding this.

5) Stay one step ahead of data in transit costs

In the digital age, businesses already struggle with the sheer number of SSL certificates they hold. Unfortunately, implementing cloud-based storage only adds to that problem. Information held within the cloud requires SSL certificates to keep it protected when in transit.

Elliott’s results from the study confirm the same. “The cornerstone of cloud transactions is SSL encryption. You have to be able to manage your SSL certificates in an efficient way. Only about 27% of organizations say SSL certificates related to the cloud is easy. Many think it’s highly complex. And many say they’re not sure their cloud partners certificates meet or comply with their own internal corporate standards”.

What can you do to avoid these hidden costs?

Amidst the rush to get up and running on the cloud, there are 4 simple steps you can take to reduce the risk of encountering hidden costs:

1) Deduplicate cloud data

By removing any duplicate records you have in the cloud, you can seriously cut down on your monthly costs.

2) Teach staff about cloud policies.

By educating staff on the policies surrounding cloud data, you can avoid future data risks. Change within businesses takes time, so be patient with the education process and continue to monitor staff to make sure they adopt the new policies correctly.

3) Make the most of non-specific platforms and tools

Using tools that are platform-specific reduces efficiency and increases business costs. Find a tool that works across several of your company platforms to reduce company expenditure when migrating to a new service.

4) Base your policies around people, not platforms

Cloud technology is moving forward at a continually accelerated pace, so keeping your policies up to date can be a time-consuming task. For this reason, money can be saved by basing your policies on the people you serve and the information you hold, they can be easily adapted to new platforms and tools.

Are you looking for a cloud storage provider? Get in touch today to find out how Firmex can work for your business.