Data safety and data protection – part 2
Besides advantages mentioned before, the most violent disputes come from data safety and data protection issues.
Today’s technological tools – developed because of the increasing number of cyber-attacks and industrial espionage events – are perfectly capable to safeguard user’s data. Most of these technologies safeguard data and processes from unauthorised access: encryption, identification technologies, VPN, careful data separation. Redundancy and safety backups stored in geographically separated areas is a guarantee for data integrity in case of a storage catastrophe. (All these technologies mentioned here are used by Virtual Call Center).
Recent safety incidents extensively showcased in the world media could left some not so skilled technical users with the disturbing feeling, that not every service provider is doing what he can to ensure data safety. And even high technologies can not protect us from human error or negligence. But if we take a closer look, we can see, that data losses – from global IT companies like Sony or Apple – occurred at firms with cloud computing as not their main business. At these companies, cloud is only a supplementary service on track to growth. These vulnerable companies are part of a second wave businesses, who expand their traditionally profitable businesses or change their business model. These incidents show, that no matter how big and respectful one IT company is, safe and stable cloud service has its strict rules, and if they are not obeyed, there is large room for errors.
If we take the traditional cloud service companies – with a large cloud offering portfolio like Google and Amazon, or Microsoft, that shifted towards cloud a decade ago – they practically don’t have any real data loss incidents in their records. At these companies, even service continuity incidents are rare birds, data loss – due to multiple redundancies – is nearly impossible. Cloud service providers dedicate several divisions to maintain and develop their core business, every special field being managed by these divisions, and thus offering a stable, fast, reliable and comfortable cloud service.
Before signing up for a company, – just as we do when we choose a bank -, we have to check the service provider’s reputation. It’s no coincidence that reliability is the most important component of cloud service provider’s image. It’s worth to take a close look at certificates – despite that their system is not coherent yet. Because it’s in the interest of the cloud service providers to have a safe, reliable and stable operation, they will do everything to gain and maintain their users’ trust. In their contract they offer different guarantees to their customers, they aim to be transparent, treat their possible incidents publicly, offer broad support for their services, during malfunction a corresponding compensation can be expected from them – and some are even brave enough to resist at some level to a nosey state.
Data privacy is the other controversial and heated topic, and cloud receives many criticisms here. Because alongside with their data users pass some control over this data to the service provider. At most times, users don’t have the possibility to monitor their personal data handling for the chosen company. After consecutive scandals, there are a lot of improvements in this field lately because it became obvious for the big players that besides advanced technology user trust being their largest capital. Step by step they are operating more transparently, they try to offer more guarantees.
But naturally this is enough. Even Safe Harbour agreement – which regulates data handling in the USA and the European economic area for signing countries and companies – is not providing enough protection and legal aid, because of the multitude of regulations – as pinpointed by the competent EU workgroup (Article 29 working party). After data leaks linked to Edward Snowden USA-EU conflict in this area escalated. Talks are underway even nowadays, new EU data protection directives firmly stand beside strict limitations.
Discretion is advisable when we are choosing our hairdresser or car service, it’s obvious that we have to proceed with the greatest caution when we are trusting our data with a company, and when our business continuity depends on the chosen partner.
When an EU company seeks for adequate guarantees, before making any decision we must check the following:
- the selected cloud service provider operates in one of EU member countries – a cloud service provider operating outside EU poses further challenges due to the different legal, and economic framework they operate in, and settling arguments may prove difficult
- providing a highly available service is a key advantage of a cloud service provider, and this should be the first parameter we are checking – we can find providers offering benefits in other areas, but low availability or ambiguously formulated ones annuls all these perceived advantages
- in case of failure, incidents, down service what kind of financial compensation should we expect, the service provider has liability insurance
- what kind of companies and from what areas use the cloud services, what are their terms of contracts
- what kind of safety audits has the cloud service provider, who provided these audits
- for how long is the cloud service provider operating
- in the last three years what was the profitability of the cloud service company, what are his main financial indicators
- if we decide to switch to another company, our data can be exported for further use, the platform used isn’t a proprietary one, which makes difficult or nearly impossible migration
- is the cloud service provider flexible enough to handle new requests
- support: what kind of technical or personal assistance is provided
For final evaluation of cloud technologies and cloud service providers let us turn to an analogy again: if the business owner is buying a car for the company, then he is not asking himself, “This car is a good thing?” but checks out what kind of parameters it needs, to raise the quality of his company’s service. But he also buys the car from a reliable source, where guarantees are provided, and where he can return later with complaints and questions. That’s exactly how it works when we are searching for a cloud service provider.