This article originally appeared in the March 2011 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.
It’s 9 p.m. in Prague. You just ended a live smartphone chat with your development team there. You’re in California. Where does that chat data live, and why is that important?
Sure, people have been archiving e-mail for more than two decades now. In today’s New Normal Information Age, which ranges from enterprise use of instant messaging, text (SMS) messaging (not just for kids anymore), VoIP, live chat, smartphone chat, videoconferencing and more, one has to wonder if anybody is securing and archiving all this critical data that’s traversing the rapidly expanding new generation of networks.
Years ago, people claimed that CRM would save the world. Did it? Now the buzz on unified computing and the hoopla over cloud computing brings up serious issues beyond the hype. Today’s mobile workers are demanding a seamless experience using the devices and applications of their choice. To ensure the highest productivity of an agile workforce armed with all the new and evolving forms of communications, smartphones, tablets or laptops, your network must be good enough to handle the incoming tide of data and securely manage all traffic.
Take instant messaging for example. IM matters in the moment. Capturing and archiving that data is of enormous concern to IT managers as well as CFOs and CEOs because, if not secured, data can be breached. Unsecured, unarchived data might also fail to meet audit and compliance requirements. Business reputations can be ruined. Companies fined. People can even go to jail.
Voice is an even greater challenge. How to secure and archive VoIP truly matters. Fortunately, general technology has grown to the point where we can now achieve unified communications and extend it to mobile devices. Before the arrival of 3G, the quality of mobile, high-speed networks was not good enough for making VoIP a reality. Five years ago, talking on VoIP over the mobile phones would have been nonsense multiplied five.
How times have changed. We have entered the realm where communications can be deployed either inside the organization or outside the company in a hosted environment living in the cloud. Inside your own organization, on your local network, you can always rely on having enough bandwidth. Archiving locally is easier and most critical information such as intellectual property, sales contacts, and prospect lists generally won’t leave the network without authorization so long as the right protection tools and policies are in place. However, you need someone to set up and maintain all that or have your own dedicated IT staff.
If you launch yourself into the hosted services residing in the cloud, your data is going to be transmitted through public networks. All that data must be encrypted because you never know who is watching, listening and possibly accessing your data without authorization. If deployed in the cloud, it is essential that you know how your data is being encrypted and backed up and what will happen should the cloud suddenly evaporate. Yikes.
There are great engineers out there designing new clouds. They love building the “coolest” technology. They’re not necessarily always good businesspeople, however. Should their companies go out of business, you’re in deep trouble. You need to know where your encryption keys are and how to get your data back – quickly. You must be able to seamlessly migrate your data from one cloud platform to the next if the current vendor starts going wobbly on you.
So choosing your cloud partner is a matter of deep trust.
We know a group of great tech geeks in North America with top-notch security expertise and an incredible solution certified for use by the government and the military. We really like their solution, but we’re not using them so far. Their technology is great, but they are not ready to submit a contract we can trust enough to give us confidence to migrate our data into their cloud. What happens should something go awry (e.g., they run out of money and close the doors?
With your unified communications, you certainly can do it in-house or go to the cloud and this can be remotely controlled. In both cases, the responsibilities are the same. Storage, backup, and retrieval capabilities must be addressed and proven.
Say your data center blows up. Your executives and IT staff are panicking. Their hair is on fire. How long will it take to ensure backup? Don’t get me wrong, there is great opportunity with unified communications. It makes perfect sense in a world that is on the move and hyper-connected. Choosing the proper deployment is a big decision – in-house vs. the cloud. It’s more than just cool technology, though. There is great responsibility and true concern about storage of new types of data. The archiving of all data is not a nice-to-have, it is a must-have. Point-to-point encryption of all communications is the answer to surviving and thriving in this brave new agile world in which we live, work and play.
New pathways of unified collaboration and communication are changing the world. Mobility certainly brings opportunities and risk as well. Just be certain no matter where in the world it’s 9 p.m. - Prague, Peking or Palo Alto (News - Alert) – that you always know where your data lives.
Ladislav Goc is president of IceWarp Ltd.
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Edited by Stefania Viscusi