Data management service provider Iron Mountain, for example, has added an onsite storage option to supplement its Digital Record Center for Medical Images, a cloud storage service for medical data. The combination gives health care organizations greater flexibility in crafting their access and backup processes, says Iron Mountain.
But while many providers claim that their offerings enable compliance with specific regulatory mandates, there are few cloud storage services that are truly oriented to specific vertical industries, according to Reichman. "It would be hard for me to say that there is any major vertical where core applications are moving to the cloud yet," he says.
Cloud pays off for accounting firm
"Like everybody else, our storage needs are very diverse, and there are many different reasons for putting data in the cloud or not," says Peter Henley, CIO at Clark Nuber, a Bellevue, Wash.-based accounting firm.
For example, the company has solved version-control problems since it started using the cloud to store data that Clark Nuber accountants and clients closely collaborate on, he says. The firm keeps its data in Amazon's S3 cloud and has a file-sharing application from ShareFile on the front end. That setup has been a huge hit with users, according to Henley.
"We tried a highly collaborative portal, where we'd have contact lists, calendars, tasks and all that, but nobody used it -- and we still needed to collaborate on file storage or file manipulation," he explains. "We needed a place where everybody could go, and this is so simple. People see a file, they download the file, they put it back and we pick it up."
When Clark Nuber was deciding on a file-sharing provider, security was a prime consideration. "We needed a provider that was large enough -- certainly larger than us -- with volume on its side so it could afford a much more secure data center than we could," says Henley. "Security was an easy call, actually. Security is going to be much better at a place like Amazon than it is at Clark Nuber -- we don't have armed guards outside our server room, if you get my point."
Clark Nuber clients who want data security assurances can get a SAS 70 audit report from Amazon, as well as statements from ShareFile and Clark Nuber itself on their roles in the security chain. "They're all different. ShareFile and Clark Nuber don't provide physical security for the data; Amazon does that. Clark Nuber doesn't provide any management of how the data gets to browsers; ShareFile does that. Neither Amazon nor ShareFile assigns users or has access to passwords; Clark Nuber does that," Henley explains.
Because Clark Nuber doesn't audit public companies, it doesn't have to take into account U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission mandates. But it does anyway, Henley says. For example, it ensures that data is encrypted while in transport and locked down while at rest, and it can assess audit logs should a breach occur.
Use of cloud-based file-sharing was once a competitive differentiator among accounting firms, but that's not necessarily the case anymore. "Everybody's getting into this now," says Henley.
Education group goes off-campus
For WhippleHill Communications, which provides a hosted Web communications platform for private schools, the need for a better backup strategy led to the cloud, says Doug Smart, IT manager at the Bedford, N.H., company.