Prior to Christmas EFS posted a video to YouTube which featured yours truly talking about the benefits of utilising cloud solutions to run our business with a particular focus on Microsoft Office365.

We shared it throughout our Social Media network including LinkedIn.

Rightfully so, another LinkedIn member challenged me on the content of the video as it didn’t talk about the risks associated with moving to the cloud in terms of ongoing security of our own data and our clients data. This he said was key information SME owners needed to know and I totally agree.

Yesterday I was able to find the time to reply. You can follow the thread by clicking on the link below. I’m sure there will be some more comments on the topic.

@EFSAU Director @JamesSolomonsCA talking about small business using cloud technology to run a smarter business http://ow.ly/rPu9s | LinkedIn.

At EFS we take the security of our data very seriously. There is quite a bit of personal information held by our office which our clients expect us to safeguard. Under our ICAA professional standards we have to adhere to quality assurance standards regarding the security of the data we hold onsite and in the cloud.

As noted in my reply, I firmly believe that data stored in the cloud is much safer than data stored on our server, individual PCs and laptops.

This quote from the CIO of the Commonwealth Bank, which at a recent event he encouraged the audience to quote only backs up our beliefs..

“Commercially sensitive information is protected FAR better than you or we could do on premises”

We have also investigated our cloud providers own security policies (the main providers being Microsoft and Xero). Microsoft have a great clear and succinct Security in Office 365 Whitepaper. It is here for people’s reading pleasure 🙂 . Xero have published their overarching principles for security (but keep much of the actual practices private) which can be found here. Nonetheless I have had conversation with Xero employees regarding these practices and am confident that Xero has it all under control.

As a commitment to understanding better the risks of the cloud and how to mitigate them as well as how to enhance the quality of IT service management in EFS and for the benefit of the accounting industry at large, upon the recommendation of HubOne CEO Nick Beaugeard I am going to be complete the ITIL Foundations course. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_Technology_Infrastructure_Library).

As with all decisions we make it is always a cost v benefit approach regarding what solutions we implement. We investigated the costs of things like “private clouds” and their security for our data and client’s data versus the cost and security of using Microsoft and applications like Xero. We assessed the benefits obtained from all and weighed this up versus keeping everything on-premise. It became an easy decision to move to a true cloud solution once we had performed this analysis.

As noted, we take security very seriously at EFS and will continue to assess and implement best practice where possible and seek advice from experts like HubOne to ensure everything is safe and secure.