If you own or work-in a small business of less than five people, chances are you’re still running a “file server” of some sort – maybe several – and if you’re more than five people, I don’t know how you work together without centralizing your data and information in some way.
At dinner a few nights ago I was asking my friend, a psychologist in his mid-70s, about his own methods of protecting his business data; mainly patient records, documents and financial information. We talked about HIPAA and the changes he’s seen in the industry over the past few decades. He’s been practicing a while now, attends many conferences with his peers, and it seemed pretty clear to me that a vast swath of healthcare practitioners don’t digitize their work in any way as a means to avoid the entire “hassle,” as my friend put it, of being compliant with privacy regulations.
I asked him, “If you don’t keep everything on computers, how do you run your business?”
It turns out he runs his practice via a meticulously maintained system of chronological, alphabetized and color-coded paper files distributed between myriad cabinets, each of those classified as this-or-that or even something like “cabinet one-of-three.” Seriously. That’s what he said. “How do you back all that stuff up?” I asked.
I stopped there.
So, indeed he is running a “file server” at his office – except in my friend’s case he burns a lot of calories doing so because he actually has to go from cabinet to cabinet. In data-center land a.k.a. the future, Ethernet cables link cabinets to cabinets and a billion other lines connect the servers in those cabinets to us out in the world so we can do things like share pictures of a cat wearing a unicorn outfit.
More importantly however, my friend’s data, the history of all of his business, is at a substantial risk of being lost completely because he doesn’t maintain an updated, off-site copy of anything.
I also asked him about how he sends files to other doctors when necessary. Since he doesn’t use email for his business, it’s all faxes, photo-copies and certified packages.
David Girouard, founder and CEO of UpStart and the former President of Enterprise at ye ‘ol Google, posted a great article today about how companies aren’t embracing the cloud the way they should. He makes some striking points, like:
If you believe you can match the capabilities and rigor of Google’s Security Operations team, I wish you well.
Amazon targets 99.95 percent [uptime] for AWS. So, can your team beat that?
The file server is the center of data for most companies, whether it’s an old-fashioned paper system or a newfangled computerized one. As we globalize further each day and with the ever-maturing SaaS services now available, this vital resource is moving to the cloud to enable truly centralized file serving to their teams anywhere they are.
In the cloud, the file server is becoming so much more than just a file server.
In an office, a file server is a repository for data that everyone accesses on their own computers, which they then edit with their own applications. This means you’ve got some people using Microsoft Word, some using Open Office and if you have three people on three computers who need to work on Photoshop files, that’s three licenses of Creative Suite.
In the cloud, a file server not only serves its basic function, it becomes a full-fledged business-operations tool. FSaaS services combine cloud storage and file syncing, secured sharing, web browser-based file viewing and editing into an environment that’s completely controllable by the business-owner but provides a one-stop-shop for team members. Even though data might physically reside in an unknown location, as Girouard points out, you likely wouldn’t be able to expect the same level of reliability or security out of your own IT department that you would get from a professional FSaaS vendor.
For healthcare providers, FSaaS services often fill the needs of regulation compliance, like HIPAA, by providing the types of encryption, retention, version history and IT admin control necessary.
The most significant impact a FSaaS can have on your company:
- Save massive amounts of IT management time. No local file server to keep online.
- Cut down on amount spent on software licenses. In cloud file-editing means you don’t need to pay for software for each computer.
- Protect your data. In the cloud, your files are much more likely to survive a disaster.
- Increase productivity! Using one service to rule them all means your teams don’t have to fumble from application to application. They spend more time working on their projects!
If you want to talk about FSaaS, come join me in the LinkedIn group!