Building a Batcave in the cloud
As a seven-year-old in the 1980s, my older brother and I were pretty intense superhero action figure aficionados. We were loyal to the DC universe—my brother into Superman and me, Batman.
Because my dad managed a convenience store on weekends, we had access to cardboard boxes that often made their way to our house. Though we begged every birthday and Christmas, the Batcave was never a gift we opened. Instead, those cardboard boxes became the most advanced Batcave ever created. (At least more than any Batman movie—I can’t comment on the comic books. I mean, graphic novels.)
But we’re here to discuss software as a service (SaaS), also known as cloud computing. So let’s use Batman as an example of how to do it like a superhero.
Building a fortress – digitally
If Batman had an architect like me for his Batcave, he would undoubtedly have had many of the luxuries typically reserved for a superhero of his caliber—security features like a force field, moat and underwater entrance.
Just as Batman might expect such elaborate security features, so too should organizations for the protection of their data. A force field may not possible, but the hosting equivalent of those security standards should be expected of SaaS providers. Data centers must be secured with impenetrable access control, documented change management protocols and environment controls including power redundancy, air cooling and fire-suppression mechanisms.
Organizations might even prefer to go further with their security expectations. Requiring the provider to commit to delivering regular audit reports governing the integrity of the facility is certainly reasonable, as is clarifying whether the data center is co-located or requires in-house resources.
If you employ in-house resources, validating the expertise of the vendor in data center management should be an inherent part of your due diligence process. Even with co-location and evidence of comprehensive security features within the product, unless the product is hosted well with appropriate network security controls, none of that matters.
It would be like Batman giving all those villains maps to the Batcave.
Choosing a strategic location
Of course, Batman kept his Batcave well-hidden under Wayne Manor. My brother and I kept ours in our bedroom. This was a pretty simple decision.
But when you consider your SaaS provider and the respective data center locations, considerably more thought is required. Many SaaS providers manage their data locations as conveniently and cost-effectively as they can by load balancing across multiple data centers around the country and possibly around the world, wherever the capacity allows.
Often, this means your data is in multiple locations at any given time. When you need confidence in your data location, whether required by your organization or industry regulations, many SaaS solutions make this difficult for you. With increasingly stringent data privacy regulations, you need assurance of the primary data center location along with the location of replicated and/or secondary copies.
Securing your digital fortress
Batman operated under a code of secrecy, protecting his identity and, ultimately, his ability to keep Gotham safe. While hosted providers will also protect their proprietary technologies in the interest of maintaining the security of their environments, don’t be fooled by those who refuse to disclose anything based on that rationale.
A solid hosting provider knows how to share the technical capabilities of its hosting protocols to satisfy even the most stringent of hosting requirements – without giving away the location of its Batcave.
For example, we provide our cloud customers with the ability to choose which data center pairing we should utilize to host their solutions. This allows organizations to ensure the content remains in their desired jurisdiction with the right physical security measures in place. Not only can they answer data location questions, but they’re also confident that their solutions are both highly secure and highly available.
The trick is to find the right hosted solution that will fight data villains for you.