Like many companies, yours probably stores at least some of its business files, documents and information in “the cloud.” This is the widely used term referring to the seemingly infinite data storage capacity of the Internet.

Using the cloud generally means lower IT costs, because you don’t have to deploy a lot of expensive hardware and software on-site and it’s scalable — in other words, you can easily expand or diminish your data storage capabilities as necessary. Most cloud services also feature automatic backups and updates.

But these inherently great features don’t guarantee you’ll get a good return on investment. To make the most of the cloud, you’ll need to identify and follow some best practices. Here are two to consider.

A carefully vetted provider

Moving from on-premises, server-based data storage to cloud-based data storage requires a different mindset. You’ll be unable to physically look at and touch a server box and say, “That’s where my data is stored.”

This makes it critical to choose a cloud services provider you can trust and build a strong relationship with as a true business partner. Ask potential providers for the names of two or three of their clients you can speak with about issues such as level of security, responsiveness and technological sophistication.

Well-defined objectives

You need to pinpoint your recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives (that is, the most critical data points for your business) concerning the backup and recovery of your data in an emergency. Be sure you’ve clearly communicated these to your cloud services provider.

Your provider should be able to work with you on an individualized basis to ensure that your objectives will be met. You don’t want to find out during a crisis that you’ve lost mission-critical data.

Worth considering

If you haven’t ventured into the cloud yet, give it some consideration — these services are becoming increasingly common. And if you have, be sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

© 2016

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