Where is the data actually stored in the cloud?

In this article we are going to explain to you where the data actually are when you put them in a cloud. The answer may be quite shocking.

You may think the answer is easy. The data are in a cloud. And this belief is shared by many clients and maybe this is why they are concerned about their security. In this article we are going to explain to you where the data actually are when you put them in a cloud. The answer may be quite shocking.

How a cloud works – some basics

Let us reveal a big secret: A cloud is not a hole in the space-time continuum or another dimension we have discovered in the space. It is a method to effectively manage computation means we have in physical servers. Without going into detail about how a cloud is created, we can get to the very core of the matter – a cloud is a technology running on physical servers.
Thanks to a cloud we can create an environment for IT infrastructure which can fully use the server´s potential. Public clouds make it possible because they are shared by several customers. A private cloud enables to “squeeze out” the maximum from the hardware so that the investment is truly utilized.

Take an example of a party tent. If you have bought one, you are not going to throw a party every week so you can lend it to your neighbor because he will also need it only a few times a year. And what is even better – when planning a really big party for many guests, you can borrow another tent from your cousin.

With servers it is similar. If you buy a physical server and operate it as it is you are not definitely using its full capacity. But if your provider uses a physical server to operate a cloud he can distribute its computation capacity more efficiently so that it can be fully utilized.

How do the data travel in a cloud?

Now that you know that the cloud involves you, a cloud and physical serves, we can have a look at how the data move in the cloud.

Suppose you want to add a new entry in your accounting system which is in a cloud. You need to open the accounting system in your computer and log in. All you need is your computer and an Internet connection. You enter the item and save it. Do want to know what happens next and what will be the outcome?

The new item will go to the system and the system will place it as it was programmed. The item will be saved. You are communicating with a program which is running in a cloud but the entered item will be effectively located on one of the physical servers on which the cloud is spread.

When playing the “connect four game” and place one token on the other you certainly do not believe that the upper one is hanging in the air. It may look like that but in reality it is placed in a grid and it rests on another physical token. The same is true for a cloud which in reality is enclosed in a physical server.

 

What else should I know?

A cloud as such does not mean any threat for data security. We have explained that a cloud uses physical infrastructure and therefore it is simply a method to
provide physical servers. However, in this connection we should focus on two important questions.

  • where are the physical servers on which your data are located
  • who is the administrator of those servers

Your provider of cloud services may approach the operation in various ways. He may have his own solutions, administer the cloud himself and therefore fully control it or he may be a mere reseller of a cloud from a different provider under his own brand.

Consequently, you should find out whether your provider is also the operator and whether he can tell you on which infrastructure his cloud is running. Is it provided from a data center? What are the parameters of his cloud? What security measures does he use? Does the provider use only one data center?

A potential problem may arise in case your provider is not a local company. If this is the case your data might be in a data center but a part of them may be in Europe, another part in America and the rest in Asia. Moreover, the location may keep changing and you will have no idea where your data actually are at a particular moment because your global provider is trying to balance out and optimize the load and he moves the data from one data center to another.

Make sure to ask your provider whether he can tell you where and in which data center your data can be found right now. If you are not completely happy with the answer, it is perhaps time to stop and think about what to do next.

Also very important are your own security precautions when it comes to Internet communication and your IT infrastructure in general. Not paying enough attention to your behavior in cyberspace may cause extreme damage. In addition to being careful about your provider, you should also check your own processes so that management of your IT infrastructure complies with cybersecurity rules. Always remember that last year 98% of all cyberattacks which resulted in loss or compromising of company data were caused by social engineering, i.e. through people and not by a security failure of IT systems.

Should I be scared of a cloud?

No. A cloud as such is not a dangerous technology. But you should know from whom to get it and how to use it in your company. Keep in mind that your data are actually always stored on a physical server. Don´t you think it is time for a change?

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