Who owns your data in the cloud?

Convenience and cost of hosted services need to be weighed against control over an organisation's data

Read time 1min 40sec

Despite all the hoopla over cloud services, organisations need some answers to some serious questions before hopping on the bandwagon. One of the most crucial questions that needs to be answered, says Securicom sales manager Richard Broeke, is: who owns your data?

You can visit the provider's physical location and they can show you the actual server your data resides on.

Richard Broeke, sales manager, Securicom

Fortunately, the answer is actually quite simple, but ensuring a company retains control over that data is a more pressing issue.

"The short answer is that you own the data," says Broeke, "but you have to be cognisant of who you're moving your data to. Unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous operators that will hold you to ransom."

Broeke says while ownership is never doubted, some unethical hosting providers levy astronomical 'exit fees' in order to dissuade customers from moving to a competitor.

"What we're seeing in the market is cloud providers charging exorbitant service fees to exit the relationship, with examples of companies being quoted in excess of R300 000. It's not unreasonable to charge for this, but the fee has to be reasonable."

He suggests that organisations ensure their contract has an exit clause and that any fees are specified upfront.

Using a local provider rather than an international hosting service can also provide some level of comfort, as any legal battles can be fought on home territory. Not only is the legal framework more familiar, but the costs associated with contracting foreign legal resources would be far higher.

"When choosing a provider, local is lekker," he says. "For one, you can visit the provider's physical location and they can show you the actual server your data resides on."

He admits, though, that the local market does carry a price premium, which could be anywhere between 20% and 40% higher than international providers, which is simply due to the same economies of scale not being available to local providers.

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