Cloud Storage for Campus Environments, Advantages and Risks
The cloud has become a digital storage solution for many organizations
- By Steve Rosa
- August 01, 2019
Cloud storage and backup providers
have expanded their
reach from businesses and
individuals to campuses
around the world. From dayto-
day student use, to faculty and employee
collaboration and storage of electronic files,
the cloud has become the digital storage
solution for many organizations. According
to a 2018 study by McAfee:
- Ninety-seven percent of organizations use
cloud services (public, private, or a combination
of both), up from 93 percent one
- Eighty-three percent store sensitive data
in the public cloud
- Sixty-nine percent trust the public cloud
to keep their sensitive data secure
- One in four organizations has experienced
data theft from the public cloud
- One in five organizations has experienced
an advanced attack against its public
Whether your campus is a high school,
university or healthcare provider, technology
is moving at a rapid pace offering advantages
and risk. For many, the need is for improved
data storage and access that comes via cloud
storage. Let’s take a closer look at cloud storage
and what it offers, but also the security
issues that must be addressed.
Cloud Storage is a service where data is
remotely maintained, managed, and sometimes
even backed up. The service allows
users to store files online, so that they can
access them from any location via the internet.
While there are many storage solutions
available for specific use cases, just because
they are available via the internet and a service
provider doesn’t necessarily make them
a cloud storage service. There is a simple way
to tell the difference. Cloud storage tends to
suggest a large object storage-based service
which is typically accessed via application
programming interface calls or file storage
which is accessible via a share. High performance
storage is usually block based and is
accessible via cloud computing but is not
Now, that we understand what is and isn’t
cloud storage, let’s look into some of the
advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of Cloud Storage
Usability. Cloud storage services have desktop
folders for Mac’s and PC’s. This allows
users to drag and drop files between the
cloud storage and their local storage.
Bandwidth. You can avoid emailing files
to individuals and instead send a web link to
recipients through your email.
Accessibility. Stored files can be accessed
from anywhere via internet connection.
Disaster Recovery. It is highly recommended
that businesses have an emergency
backup plan ready in the case of an emergency.
Cloud storage can be used as a backup
plan by businesses by providing a second
copy of important files. These files are stored
at a remote location and can be accessed
through an internet connection.
Cost Savings. Businesses and organizations
can often reduce annual operating costs
by using cloud storage; cloud storage costs
about 3 cents per gigabyte to store data internally.
Users can see additional cost savings
because it does not require internal power to
store information remotely.
Disadvantages of Cloud Storage
Usability. Users need to be cautious when
using drag/drop to move a document into the
cloud storage folder. This will permanently
move your document from its original folder
to the cloud storage location. Instead, a copy
and paste should be utilized to retain the document’s
original location in addition to moving
a copy onto the cloud storage folder.
Bandwidth. Several cloud storage services
have a specific bandwidth allowance. If an
organization surpasses the given allowance,
the additional charges could be significant.
However, some providers allow unlimited
bandwidth. This is a factor that companies
should consider when looking at a cloud
Accessibility. If you have no internet connection,
you have no access to your data.
Data Security. There are concerns with
the safety and privacy of important data
stored remotely. The possibility of private
data co-mingling with other organizations
makes some uneasy.
Software. If you want to be able to manipulate
your files locally through multiple
devices, you’ll need to download the service
on all devices.
Understanding the Benefits
While there are several potential risks in
utilizing cloud storage services, enterprise
consumers can enjoy different benefits as
well. These benefits are not just limited to
storage of files. They can include an increase
in work efficiency.
Having a cloud storage provider can help
the organization have a disaster recovery
plan in place. While it probably will not be
the only component of the overall recovery
protocol, it can be a useful tool to help get
the organization get back on its feet in the event of a natural disaster or system meltdown.
In addition, those who archive their
information in an off-site location do not
have to worry as much about potential natural
In the event of a fire, flood, or some other
disaster, as the information is not located
onsite, it will be accessible and safe even if
campus damage has occurred. Once repairs
are made, administrators can retrieve the
information via the internet and restore their
servers to working order.
While cost can be a risk, it can also be a
benefit. Instead of having to purchase and
maintain hardware in order to back up all the
systems, that cost is absorbed by someone
else. The company will only pay a subscription
fee which will help the provider offset
these costs. Organizations can actually save
money by allowing someone else to maintain
their storage facility.
When it comes to making the company
work more efficiently, the cloud offers the
benefit of anywhere access. Documents and
data can be accessed via the internet from
any location, allowing users whether employees
or students to work while traveling or at
home if necessary.
The same technology also allows users to
work together on a project, saving time and
endless email revisions. Many enterprise
level cloud storage providers offer tools that
will allow users to collaborate on documents
at the same time even if they are not at the
same location. Managers can also monitor
work using the same tools.
Security concerns can make the cloud
sound like a risk. However, there are also
some security benefits to using the cloud.
- Most cloud providers offer 128 or 256 bit
- They also offer zero-knowledge security
- Anywhere, anytime accessibility (depending
on your internet connection)
- Cloud providers have a redundancy in
place to ensure files are not corrupted due
to lack of access
- Cloud storage providers have security in
place to ensure a physical site is secure,
whereas external hard drives and USB
drives are susceptible to theft
Making a Successful Move to the Cloud
Utilizing new technologies does come with a
risk, however, with adequate research and
understanding, many of these problems can
be avoided. IT administrators should take
plenty of time to research potential vendors
prior to making any commitments.
Areas that should be monitored include
reliability, security, and location. In order
for a cloud storage solution to be successful
for an enterprise-level consumer, a few
areas should be considered prior to selecting
- Cloud storage management must be a priority
- Ensure good security measures to save
- Location of cloud storage providers’ physical
- Scalability of service to ensure enough
Most of the cloud vendors only provide a
platform with a well-defined service—migration
and management require the companies
to either build/acquire the capabilities or to
engage IT service providers that deliver professional
services or managed services. So,
companies have to select the right partner to
accompany them, with right business knowledge,
accredited certifications and strong
references. When done right, using a great
cloud platform with the support of a good IT
Service Provider will bring you the best outcome
at the best cost.
By taking time to weigh the risks and benefits
of cloud storage solutions, campuses can
find a service or product that will work best
for them. This is not something that should
be taken lightly and all of the risks should be
understood prior to purchasing a subscription.
While the cloud offers many convenient
and useful tools to help businesses grow, it is
something that should be studied and
researched before making a commitment.
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2019 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.