Where customer data actually ends up has long been a concern for MSPs. Doubts as to the answer are something often cited by opponents of the trend towards cloud services.
Now, against a backdrop of seemingly non-stop revelations about cyber-security and breaches of privacy, knowing where client data is (and where it’s copied to) is especially important.
Here are some key reasons why:
Compliance obligations obviously vary hugely dependent on the industry sectors you are working in, but most businesses are subject to at least some data protection legislation, and this includes your own MSP business.
If you work with clients in industries such as healthcare, everything is even more onerous. You could find that (under regulations such as HIPAA) you have to take as much care of where your data ends up as that of the clients you support.
Marketing may seem like a strange thing to include here, but as we’ve already said, people are now a lot more interested in knowing exactly how their data is being looked after and where’s it’s being stored.
By clearly laying out where all your customer data is stored, you can separate yourself out from the “MSP pack” and appeal to potential new customers who want to know these details.
When it comes to data security, things have been turned on their head somewhat by all the recent revelations. A couple of years ago, there was a backlash about certain cloud services because of the implications of data being stored “off shore.”
Now, it’s almost the opposite, because some people are concerned that data held more locally is being snooped at! If you really want to do all you can to attract customers with different priorities, perhaps you could consider offering alternative services with each storing data in different territories?
The biggest challenge in all of this will probably be actually finding out where data ends up. Cloud service providers tend to build in resilience features and redundancy, often by using servers all over the globe.
For example, Microsoft state the following in their Office 365 whitepaper:
“Office 365 data is stored in the Microsoft network of data centers, run by Microsoft Global Foundation Services and strategically located around the world.”
This doesn’t really tell us much, does it? A little more probing reveals that Microsoft ‘s primary location for data is based on where you signed up, but the company doesn’t reveal exactly where data could be copied to for resilience.
So, perhaps there’s an opportunity here? If you can build cloud services for customers and tell them exactly where their data resides, they may prove more appealing than services where the detail is sketchy.