Cloud storage

Cloud storage

Information stored in electronic files is now crucial to practically all organisations. Electronic documents enjoy the same status as formal printed documents and can represent legally binding contracts. It is essential that all appropriate files must be retained in a full, secure and accurate archive.

However, there is more involved in this that would be provided by a static storage repository. It is essential that the stored information can be accessed rapidly both for the purposes of improved productivity and legal compliance.

In the modern world the volume of data is growing at an unprecedented rate and many organisations are seeking third party cloud based archiving solutions.  Cloud archiving is the provision of data storage as a service where the system provides optimal regulation policy compliance, security and long term data retention.  All cloud archived data must be readily searchable, tamper-proof, and authenticated. It must also be one hundred percent protected by infallible disaster recovery systems.

The benefits of cloud based storage are apparent when its costs are compared to those of implementing and maintaining in-house archival storage, and even more so when organisations must adhere to substantial data retention policies.

In house archives are expensive and resource hungry in terms of both IT human resources and hardware.  As archives must be retained in the long term it is often necessary to migrate them to new hardware, and it is generally essential to maintain long term hardware and software support contracts. There are also staff training implications. By contrast, with cloud archiving there are many more degrees of freedom regarding where the archive is maintained and how data can be accessed.

Some organisations opt for a half-way house, a kind of a hybrid cloud archive where some of the data that might need to be available for high speed access is retained in house, with the email which has a lower level of priority being moved to the cloud-based archive. However, for most organisations and especially for those that either are unable to or do not wish to maintain an in-house archive a full could based archive is the optimal solution.

As an illustration of how cloud archiving works, we will consider the SaaS company Mimecast. The company provides a cloud-based service where customers are able to archive documents and files wherever they might be stored. For instance files can be archived from such resources as document libraries, network shares, SharePoint, home drives and Dropbox.

Every file is indexed before it is stored in the archive, which permits administrators and end users to implement rapid searches and retrievals. This also provides the organisation with complete adherence to regulatory compliance, legal holds and eDiscovery. Archived files can also be accessed by users through a number of applications.

Other benefits of cloud archiving include centralised administration from a single location, the application of automated retention policies, security from data leaks, and mobile and web access to archived files.