(Article originally published by Forbes on October 4, 2023. Written by Joe Oprosko, CEO of Veridocs.)
SaaS (software-as-a-service) and The Cloud have revolutionized the way businesses process, store, and access critical data. The universal shift to digital storage of data has brought on the near constant threat of hacking and the question of how to safeguard data has become even more pressing. Cloud computing and storage is more convenient, but businesses must rely on a third party for security.
Even so, most businesses rely on a third party for data management for at least one application. Data processing and storage inside your firewall offer increased control of your data as your IT staff oversee maintenance, backups, and security updates.
So, which is right for you? Keep your data storage and security in-house or trust a third party with your data? As with any type of software decision, it’s important to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of both options to decide which one might be the best fit for your specific needs.
SaaS in the Cloud
The modern concept of cloud computing was introduced by Google CEO Eric Schmidt in 2006. Schmidt proposed that data and digital architecture should be on remote servers connected via the internet rather than stored locally. Since then, the concept of off-site data and application management has exploded in popularity due to its relative ease of use and lower costs. Today options for cloud SaaS products are vast including those from well-known service providers like Microsoft and Salesforce.
Staffing - When you implement a SaaS solution for an application, there is less pressure on your IT staff as the development resources are on the provider’s side.
Automatic Updates -: Working with a cloud solution means you always have the most current software available because updates are pushed automatically.
Disaster Recovery - Cloud providers typically provide backups with multiple data centers so you can still access your data even if there’s an adverse event such as a natural disaster or power outage.
Elevated Security Vulnerabilities - By choosing a cloud application, you are relying on that company to protect your data from cybercriminals. This can mean the provider’s risk is your risk too. Major cloud SaaS providers are prime targets for hacking and data breaches. Consider the attack on Microsoft earlier this year—a group of Chinese hackers called Storm-0558 broke into some its customer’s email systems to gather intelligence.
Confidentiality - If your data is stored without encryption, cloud computing and storage presents a risk of your data being accessed by others without your express knowledge.
Difficult Transitions - Changing from one cloud provider to another can be a difficult and expensive task. The associated fees for transferring or converting your data to the new provider can run high.
SaaS Inside Your Firewall
In the simplest terms, your firewall acts as a moat to defend your trusted internal network from uninvited guests traveling the internet network. You grant or block permissions between these networks to control who gets access to your data and when. Using a SaaS application offers a unique set of benefits and some risks.
Staffing - Like Cloud SaaS, when you implement a SaaS solution inside your firewall for an application, there is less pressure on your IT staff as the development resources are on the provider’s side.
Control - By having the software application within your firewall, you have full control over data security, storage, and how it’s shared.
Confidentiality - Because you control access to your data, you reduce the risk of your data being accessed by others without your express knowledge.
Updates - Using SaaS inside your firewall means you must access and install software updates to maintain the latest version.
Complexity - IT staff must deploy regular updates to your firewall to maintain security, solve issues, and address potential threats or concerns, as well as plan for disaster recovery.
For smaller companies looking to increase their security without adding more responsibility on their end, SaaS in the Cloud can be a great solution. For many companies with a full roster of IT staff where data confidentiality and security are top priority—a solution like SaaS inside of the firewall can address concerns while making full use of the security assets already on their side. Of course, you’re not required to go all-in on one technology or the other. Many businesses use SaaS both in the cloud and within their firewall systems to reduce risk and enhance flexibility.
No matter which technology you choose, it’s crucial to stay up to date on security best practices to keep your data safe now and in the future.