Why moving shared storage to the cloud/SharePoint Online

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For 18 years I worked in the IT sector and for most of that I was dead fast against any documents being stored in the cloud. The reasons were varied:

  • Security
  • Backup
  • Auditing

Of course, back then some of these were probably valid reason but with the rapid developments in cloud based offerings those reason don’t really count any more.

Shared storage was and in some cases still is the norm when it comes to the storage of documents that are shared across departments or complete organisations. This storage does not come without a cost. There are the simple costs such as electric for powering the servers and the associated cooling and other services. Now add to that the cost of maintenance, and support services associated with those servers. The replacement of parts as they fail, the data may sit on associated NAS servers which require maintenance. You may even have an external support contract to ensure the continuity of service for your users.  All of this adds up.

As well as the cost of running local storage there are also the access issues. In their personal life’s our users access data in an on-demand culture. We watch TV on-demand from all sorts of devices. However, our work files are only available when we are connected to the same network that hosts the data.

Most of these barriers can be broken down with cloud storage. SharePoint Online can store documents with ease, it’s pretty much what it was built for. Once migrated all the data that was once only available from the business network is now available from anywhere you can get internet access.

But let’s revisit those three reasons for staying onPrem we had earlier in the article.

Security

SharePoint Online can be as secure as you need it to be, only allowing users access to documents that they should have access to.

As for physical security, Microsoft data centres are among the most secure in the world.

Backup

While there is no Microsoft provided backup solution all your data is spread around the Microsoft datacentre limiting the risk to your data from any single physical server outage in the cloud.

You can backup using a third party tool if you really want to

Auditing

Every action within SharePoint online can be audited. You can search these logs to find out who did what, when and to what file.

So, we have covered most of the technical reason for moving to the cloud but what about your user’s experience. Microsoft Office 365 and SharePoint Online will provide your users with an outstanding experience. Office Online allows your users to open and edit documents in the browser from a multitude of devices including PC, tablets and mobile phones. Office Online also provides a collaborative approach that showcases the use of Microsoft technology in the cloud. Multi authoring allows for multiple authors to be editing the same document at the same time with real time chat in the same browser window.

And one final thing, all of this is free to education.

So when are you moving your data?

Author: Alan Richards (BFC Networks: Cloud Architect)