How to deal with bandwidth failure in the office

What do you do when you can't an access your essential cloud-based services? Will Lovegrove has some suggestions

In previous articles I looked at the Software-as-a-Service business model and how to select a cloud-based service provider, such as an accountant. But one of the biggest fears and bugbears of signing up to an online-only service is that it only takes problems with your broadband to cause a serious business headache.

Here are some tips I’ve learnt the hard way about how to mitigate the risk of bandwidth failure in your office:

1. Buy ‘hotspot’ capability.

Hotspot capability for your smartphone from your mobile phone provider could prove a ‘life-saver’. If your broadband fails then you can quickly turn your phone into a connectivity lifeline over 3G.

2. Set-up your wireless LAN & Router yourself.

Seriously. If you can start a business then you can set-up a router (and routers come with instruction manuals unlike business start-ups). Why? Because when you get network failure you will have the confidence to diagnose and attempt solutions yourself before you feel you have to call in an off-site expert. Nine times out of 10 you can make the fix yourself (and it’s normally just a re-boot).

3. Explore your security options.

Security and reliability are two concerns cloud antagonists frequently point to when arguing against the adoption of cloud technology. The point they make is that if the precautions and measures being taken to make IT infrastructure reliable and secure reside with people and teams outside your organisation then how can you be sure they are taking their responsibilities seriously?

These are serious issues and are worth exploring in a little more detail.

Security of an organisation’s data is best compared to an onion. There are layers of security that wrap around an organisation like layers of skin around an onion. At the core is the high value data.

Each layer of the skin is concerned with a certain type of security. Some layers are going to be the responsibility of your cloud application provider. Other layers are going to be the responsibility of your own organisation.

Dropbox is a great example to use to illustrate this point. I frequently get asked the question: “Is Dropbox secure”. My answer is “Yes, it is. But your staff can still use it to send your data outside of your organisation. Did you mean to ask me whether Dropbox is secure, or your company?”.

Dropbox makes a point of telling its customers how secure it is. It provides have an easy to read security policy and clearly explains that its service is in turn built on Amazon Web Services, which explains that “…only those within Amazon who have a legitimate business need to have such information know the actual location of these data centers, and the data centers themselves are secured with a variety of physical controls to prevent unauthorized access”.

This means no one outside Amazon (and most people inside Amazon) don’t actually know where its data centres are. That’s not the only thing a cloud business needs to think about when it comes to protecting your data, but it’s a good place to start.

This article is part four of five. You can read part five – How reliable are cloud-based business platforms? – by clicking the arrows.

Will Lovegrove runs an award-winning mobile app software company called Release Mobile. He has just launched a new cloud-based data sharing platform, Datownia, aimed at helping small to medium-sized businesses connect their data to mobile apps and business systems.

Comments

(will not be published)