The Cloud

The “cloud“ is an increasingly hot topic within the IT world, and should be understood by both industry professionals and end users. Ambiguity and a whole host of unknowns make for many areas to consider when understanding and implementing cloud solutions.  

What we must remember about cloud computing is that the data still has a physical presence. With that being said, the distinction is that the responsibility for security and redundancy is shifted onto the cloud storage provider. Their remote locations provide improved safeguards and help to prevent data loss via replication. In reality there is no cloud – you are just storing your data on someone else’s computer or machines. 

There are many advantages to taking up cloud services, whether it be implementing software as a service solution, using mobile device management for BYOD facilities, or remotely managing security for multiple clients.  

The cloud comes in endless formats and can perform a multitude of different tasks, so there’s sure to be something to suit your business. 

 

Service Models (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS): 

There are a variety of services, offered by a range of different companies, each providing various levels of IT solutions.  

Starting with the basics we have Software as a Service (SaaS). This covers products on a subscription basis and ranges from email solutions (e.g. Office 365), security (e.g. Sophos Cloud) through to accounting solutions (e.g. MYOB). The benefit here is that you don’t have to pay for the software upfront and can cancel your subscription at any time. The other bonus is that you will get the latest versions and updates for your software, thereby improving the performance and security of your products. Another huge advantage of this model is that most cloud solutions are scalable; when your company grows, your software can grow with it. 

The Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) models give users and companies the ability to develop, run and manage applications without the need for purchasing, configuring and managing a physical infrastructure. Essentially, companies can rent or host a number of applications without having to buy and maintain a server. 

 

Cloud Security: 

Along with the many benefits of shifting software and infrastructure from local to remote storage, there are also risks that need be considered. The fact that cloud computing and storage providers often use third party data centres to store and process data increases the opportunities for attack and data leak. At an end user level, care must be taken to ensure that security is managed with regards to access. This can be as simple as ensuring that passwords are complex, changed on a regular basis, and kept secure (only provided to users who need them). At the cloud provider level they must ensure that their infrastructure is secure and that their clients’ data and applications are protected. 

Mobile Device Management (MDM): 

In a world where most people have one, if not more than one mobile device, businesses need to start making decisions about how to protect their devices and data. In the past, companies would issue staff a company phone. This made it easy to track usage and when the employee left the company, they would simply return the phone and so with it any data it held. Nowadays people prefer to use their own devices, configured according to their preferences, and so trying to introduce a new “work device” can prove to be a difficult task. Who wants to carry two phones and who wants to learn how to use a new one? The truth is that people hate change, they like things to be easy. Allowing employees to integrate their work applications into their own phones and tablets (bring your own device, or BYOD) is a great solution for this. 

At a glance, the concept is simple. An employee uses their own phone and is reimbursed for all company usage. This seems straightforward enough, but putting it into practice it is harder than you think. Take the following scenario as an example. An employee has their own phone and configures their work email account on it. What happens when this employee leaves? Sure, you can deactivate their email account, but what happens to the associated email data that is stored locally on their device? This is information that you now have no control over. This could comprise thousands of emails containing sensitive company data, now impossible to recover. And that’s just one person; think about the scale of the problem when you start to have multiple employees. 

This is where Mobile Device Management (MDM) can be beneficial to companies. There are so many advantages and avenues of MDM to explore. This is not a one-size-fits-all solution. This is about working out your requirements and tailoring a system to fit your business needs.  

With MDM you can utilise cloud management to segregate company and personal data by setting up remote management of the device for company data (email, shared documents, etc.) only. This allows the employee to use their phone for both personal and work with the two areas isolated. When the employee leaves, the company data can be remotely wiped, leaving their personal data untouched. 

 

What else can MDM offer your business?

The possibilities are endless. Do you want to restrict the apps available on the device? Would you like to restrict the websites that can be browsed during business hours? Is there a new tool that you are introducing to employees that you want rolled out on all or some of their devices? By implementing different policies and procedures, you can streamline and tailor an MDM solution for your workplace. It’s worth remembering that MDM is not just for phones, it can be implemented on tablets, computers and laptops. 

With endless possibilities about what can be achieved through MDM it can quickly become overwhelming. But with a few simple questions about how you want to work, you can eliminate the noise and soon have a solution that fits your business needs. You can then begin to keep your data secure and manage it remotely. With hundreds of different solutions out there, let us help you find something that works for you. 

 

The world of IT is changing every day, and businesses are looking to streamline their tools and scale quickly as the business landscape evolves. Cloud solutions allow companies to set up infrastructure and systems without wasting precious real estate or forking out large amounts of money upfront. It also frees you from the worry of the maintenance and upkeep of IT systems, leaving you to grow your business and innovate.