When we all moved to remote work in 2020 there was a noticeable difference between companies that stuck to legacy remote technology and those that embraced new tech.
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Organizations using legacy on-premise remote tools (servers, etc.) experienced slowdowns they had not felt before. Remote server solutions designed for just a couple of telecommuters at a time had not been designed to field traffic from entire organizations at once.
However, these issues weren’t faced by companies that had previously embraced or quickly transitioned to 3rd party cloud-based services like messenger apps or Google Drive storage. Some of them even got more productive.
The world noticed. According to Deloitte, 59% of organizations now expect cloud usage to exceed previously laid plans in the coming years. With 64% of full-time employees working remotely at the end of 2020 and many of them using the cloud daily – it’s safe to say businesses today all need to have a basic understanding of cloud storage. Here’s our breakdown of what’s happening in the industry today.
How we use the cloud remotely today
Traditionally, large companies have kept (and still often keep) company files internally on their own servers. This allows them greater control and security over company data. However, it also comes with additional labor and expenses such as:
- Updating servers regularly to prevent hacks without interrupting work
- Paying to keep servers running
- Hiring staff to run the servers
- Figuring out how to let staff conveniently access company servers remotely
The traditional workarounds to using home servers remotely have been either through Virtual Proxy Network (VPN) solutions or through Windows’ Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP).
RDP lets you physically operate your work computer remotely from a home computer while VPNs use a third-party network to access your company’s servers remotely on your computer. Some of the top VPN services for corporations include household names like:
- Pulse Secure
Services like this have worked just fine for most businesses – until the last decade. While internal servers have been the gold standard for years, the switch to large-scale remote work has exposed several flaws when relying entirely on home-based infrastructure. Often these home networks simply haven’t been set up to run quickly and efficiently with a high volume of users. Users who want to video call, file share, use chat apps and check their emails at the same time.
On top of that, a couple of notable security risks have sprung up that frequently affect companies that fail to upgrade their infrastructure in a timely manner. This in part is what spurred the rise of third-party cloud services.
So what are 3rd-party cloud services?
Third-party cloud service providers are other companies besides your own that you entrust your company data to in exchange for lower costs, convenience, and often better security. They store your files on their web servers on the cloud (aka online) for you so you can do things like transfer them to coworkers quickly. Major providers of 3rd-party cloud servers today are:
- Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- Microsoft (Azure)
While these three names dominate the cloud industry, you’ll rarely find yourself interfacing directly with them unless you are a large corporation. For SMEs today, your interaction is likely through file-sharing apps that interface entirely on the cloud through these 3rd-party providers.
How file-storing apps drive cloud storage
Remote file-sharing systems like Slack or Google Drive are the major forces pushing companies to use third-party cloud providers today. Their convenience and ease of access have made them necessary to small businesses trying to run fast, scalable remote operations.
However, to keep up with heavy usage while maintaining convenience, many of these apps conscript their services to the massive third-party providers mentioned above. For example, when you send that PDF to a coworker on an app like Slack, it doesn’t magically appear on their computer, it has to be held somewhere online so that they can download it later.
To store files conveniently online, Slack and many companies like Slack contract with cloud computing giant, Amazon Web Services (AWS). This allows them to scale quickly to offer high-volume storage to clients without paying a premium to expand their own servers.
This isn’t necessarily a problem as many of these cloud giants put much more money into file security than any one business possibly could. However, it is something companies need to be aware of when selecting remote apps. For example, the video conferencing app Zoom was accused of putting Chinese user data onto servers in China without notifying users back in 2019.
So which 3rd-party cloud storage provider is the best for remote work?
With cloud storage being slid into the backend of almost every communication tool we use today, it’s easy to lose track of where files are held. And while most large providers offer a high degree of security and up-to-date technology, spreading company IP across many different servers does increase the odds of theft.
There is no clear answer to which cloud provider or solution today is “best”. In fact, today most organizations working remotely have found that multi-cloud and hybrid cloud solutions may be the best way to operate on the cloud.
What are hybrid cloud solutions?
Hybrid cloud solutions – as the name suggests – are a mixture of public and private cloud storage options. Usually, these come in two styles:
- 3rd-party cloud providers create private company servers within the 3rd party’s facilities.
- 3rd parties set up private servers with access to the 3rd-party cloud within a company.
According to Deloitte, 85% of corporations today think a hybrid cloud model is ideal. We’ll likely be seeing much more of it as time goes on. So how can your business take the next step towards making your cloud service proactive instead of reactive?
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