Don't Lose Money in the Clouds


Small businesses are adopting cloud computing to save money, but it could end up costing them.

According to a recent survey by Symantec,  enterprises and small businesses are embracing cloud computing at a fast clip, but at the same time are experiencing escalated costs due to things like rogue cloud use, complex backup and recovery and inefficient cloud storage.

“Because it’s so easy to setup … there’s rouge deployments of cloud services,” says Tom Powledge, Symantec's vice president of product delivery for SMB and Symantec .cloud. "Employees inside companies are using various cloud services on their own without checking in with IT administrators.”

The Symantec survey found that rouge cloud deployments are a common problem, with more than three quarters of survey respondents reporting one within the last year. Large companies are more at risk than small businesses, but it is happening in all types of companies. What’s more, of the companies that reported rouge cloud issues, 40% experienced exposure of confidential information while more than one quarter saw accounts get compromised, websites defaced or goods and services stolen.

“It represents a risk to the business because it takes the control away from the IT department,” says Powledge. To combat rouge cloud deployments he says the business owner has to take stock of what is already being used and establish polices that govern what employees are allowed and not allowed to do with cloud services.

Another hidden cost associated with cloud computing has to do with the backup and recovery of data. While the whole idea of backing up sensitive data online without the need for expensive storage devices is appealing to small business owners, the strategy is not without risk.

And according to Symantec’s data, the use of the cloud for backup and recovery is actually complicating instead of simplifying the process. The survey found that many companies are using three or more services to back up their physical and virtual data, which leads to inefficiencies and costs. What’s more 43% of companies have lost cloud data and 68% have faced recovery failures. Survey respondents also said the recovery of data from the cloud is a slow and tedious process. Of the respondents, 32% rate recovery of data from the cloud as fast and 22% said it would take three or more days to recover from a major loss of data in the cloud.

“We found in the research that having a large data site trying to restore solely from the cloud can take a long time, which is a hidden cost,” says Powledge. “We think you should backup on premise and on the cloud at the same time. The benefit is you have two copies of data and can restore faster.”

Hand in hand with the complexity of backup and recovery is the inefficient use of cloud storage, which is costing businesses money. Often companies will end up backing up the same files more than once, which will increase the cost to store data in the cloud. Powledge says to find services that recognize duplications in backup and set polices so that it can be avoided. Choosing the right cloud vendor also matters. It’s not ok to simply go with the lowest cost provider, but a company has to find one that meets the requirements of the business, especially if your company is subject to compliance rules and regulations. Powledge says the business owner has to look at the privacy and security track record of a vendor before signing on the dotted line.

“The small business really has to do some homework before it decides which ones to adopt,” says Powledge.