Is Cloud Computing the Answer to Firms' Data Concerns?
Zweig Group’s 2015 Information Technology Survey
finds that data storage/organization is the biggest IT concern for firms this year, with 59% of respondents rating it a top priority. It comes in ahead of network/intranet/remote access (54%), hardware upgrades (49%), and CADD/BIM/technical applications. Further down the list, cloud computing, which usually includes data backup, lingers at 30%.
It’s no surprise that data storage is a concern. The IT Survey also found that 87% of respondents said their firms had suffered some type of data destruction or loss. The most common reason cited was “accident by employee” (62%), followed by “hardware malfunction or failure” (also 62%), and “computer virus infection” (53%). (Percentages total more than 100% because respondents were encouraged to check as many options as applied; many suffered more than one type of loss.)
When asked if they had an IT disaster recovery plan, 93% said yes. The most common type of recovery plan was a UPS battery backup (94%), followed by fault-tolerant storage systems like RAID (91%) and virus scanning (88%). (Again, multiple responses were expected.)
Unfortunately, all of those plans still leave a firm vulnerable to data loss. Fault-tolerant drives, UPS backups and antivirus software are of little or no use if your building burns to the ground, floods, or experiences a natural disaster. 86% of those surveyed said they have some off-site storage, such as tape backups or hard drives stored elsewhere, but this also has problems—off-site storage of physical drives typically happens once a day, sometimes less often. A lot of data can be lost in a day, and there’s also the possibility of losing backups during transit. Tapes, CDs, hard drives, and other types of physical storage can degrade over time and fail.
Is cloud computing the solution? Cloud computing has many benefits, allowing employees in distant locations to collaborate easily and access shared resources almost instantly, but it also usually includes a backup component. In the event of a fire, flood, natural disaster, theft, or a virus/hacking attack, your files will still be safe in a cloud backup.
There are different types of cloud backup for businesses; some offer unlimited plans, while others charge for so many GB of storage. Most scan uploaded files for viruses, although an uploaded piece of malware would not be able to spread until it was downloaded and opened anyway. The better-rated cloud backups usually have tight security protocols, but for those with especially strong concerns, some providers allow users to manage their own encryption key. The upside is that this type of storage is so secure it’s even HIPAA-compliant; the downside is that if you lose your encryption key, your provider can’t retrieve it for you (so keep that password in a fireproof safe or something).
The benefits of cloud storage and problems of data destruction may have contributed to surveyed firms’ increased interest in cloud computing. Those surveyed spent an average of $10,883 on cloud computing last year, but estimate they’ll spend an average of $12,560 for 2015.
About Zweig Group
Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.