Options for cloud-based document management systems

In past posts, we’ve discussed a number of advantages to using a cloud-based document management system. Among these benefits are:

  1. Lower overall costs
  2. No maintenance
  3. Higher efficiency from wider availability
  4. Better collaboration

We’ve also discussed some considerations that should be taken into account when considering going with cloud services. Security topped this list. There are a few options for cloud services that we haven’t delved into, though, that could make for a better solution for your company.

When we’ve discussed using a cloud-based document management system in the past, we were generally referring to the public cloud. The public cloud is what most people mean when they say “the cloud” in the media. The public cloud is typically hosted by companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Dropbox, etc. The public cloud is open to anyone who signs up and is willing to pay for storage. Even if your company purchases a cloud-based document management system from a company other than the aforementioned providers, it is still often considered the public cloud (and may actually use those providers behind the scenes). The biggest issue with public clouds is the security. While the providers put a lot of money and effort to secure their systems, they are so large that lapses occur. The security policy also can’t always be tailored to your company. Furthermore, some companies just prefer (or are required) to have as much control over their data as possible.

The opposite of the public cloud is a private cloud. A private cloud is a set of servers configured to provide many of the benefits of the public cloud but is solely controlled by your company. These private clouds can be set up in your company’s own datacenter (if they have one) or in a datacenter that your company rents capacity from. These systems are usually smaller scale (Amazon has thousands of machines across the globe) but are more strictly controlled. This way, your company can control access, the security policy, the scale, physical location, etc. The downside to this option is, predictably, the cost. Therefore, this is usually a good option for larger organizations that already have a datacenter and large IT organization to support it.

There’s a third option that combines the two. This hybrid approach allows companies to set up their own private cloud for sensitive parts of their systems but configure it to automatically utilize public cloud facilities for other, less secure, or less important parts. This requires a smaller private cloud system which will cost less but still allow for better, tighter control of those aspects of the system that require it.

With three cloud options, there’s little reason to avoid deploying your document management system (or other systems) to the cloud. We’ve shown how even the U.S. Federal government has moved toward using the cloud. With these choices, your company doesn’t have to accept lower security while taking advantage of the cost savings and efficiencies of cloud computing.


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