Where Is My Data?

I think it’s fair to say that we’re all comfortable with public content being served from public services that anyone can access. I think it’s also fair to say that given the choice, we would all choose low cost public services to store un-sensitive, non-critical or unbound by law and compliance data. A good example of data that we’d be happy to serve from public services is product images for your ecommerce site but a bad example is something like private customer data that must comply with the Data Protection Act.

There are a number of options to overcome when considering the compliance of sensitive data storage but more often than not people choose to store their data on premise and via private links with open access up to front facing services for integration. An example would be an ecommerce site processing your order and sending it to a backend OMS (order management system) for processing.

This typical design meets one of two key objectives; one is the guarantee that you know the location of your data. The second it fails to meet is having a meaningful SLA that provides commercial guarantees for the availability, recoverability, scalability and security of your data.

So here in lies the issue, if hosting your sensitive data in the public cloud will cause compliance issues what are your alternatives? The alternative is a private cloud built on a platform of private connectivity and pay per use infrastructure but more importantly a service that ensures the integrity of your data and the soil it resides on.

In addition to compliance, I appreciate that the key drivers behind your backend data services being on premise is because of the investment you’ve made in the facilities, infrastructure and integration with BI (business intelligence) and DI (data intelligence) systems. The thought of just having your data out there in a private cloud isn’t enough.

To make it work you will need to start on a journey of hosting core systems off premise which enable what you have now on premise to operate in the private cloud. The advantages of opting for a private cloud route is that you can (with the right connectivity in place) mix and match on and off premise services and transition to a fully outsourced model at your own pace.

The key take away is when and if you explore your options to move services to a cloud based model, check if you can be given guarantees about where you data will be, who will access it and how it is secured.

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James Griffin is Head of Hosting Strategy at Star. James is responsible for the strategy behind Star's hosted services, including managed hosting, e-mail and hosted applications. Before joining the team at Star in 2007, James held senior Product, Marketing and Sales roles at UK providers Fasthosts and Namesco.