Embrace the cloud hook, line and sinker or be prepared to hit a databerg

Piecemeal cloud adoption will lead to a forecast of frustration

Last week, I had an experience that taught me a valuable lesson about cloud storage. I was in the office and started working on a document that I'd previously been grafting away at home the previous day.

So far, so normal; I've been using Google Docs for years, so the idea of flitting between multiple devices to work on the same files is nothing new.

However, as soon as I went to get started, I remembered to my horror that I hadn't been working on the file in question in Google Docs - I'd been using a separate tool that wasn't synced to my Google account. Instead of sitting in my drive, the file I wanted was imprisoned on my desktop at home, leaving me unable to work on it until I could retrieve it and bring it in the following day.

Now, you may be thinking that not having access to a single file is hardly the end of the world, and you'd be right. But it did hammer home a point that I hadn't fully appreciated until now; when it comes to cloud storage, you're either all-in or you're all out.

When a business moves from an older legacy storage system to a cloud-based storage platform (like Box or, indeed, Google Drive), the most business-critical data will naturally take priority - whether that's your hot data, financial records or customer information. But it's very easy to slip backwards once the initial migration of the bulk of your important files is complete.

While applications like the G-Suite and similar tools save work to the cloud automatically, many do not. If not carefully monitored, this can result in the build-up of an unseen mass of locally-stored files and data, like the fatberg that accumulated in London's sewers. A databerg, if you will.

If this happens (and in all likelihood it will) you can be sure that it will come back to bite you. Data is like a fire extinguisher - you often don't realise it's missing until the moment when you really need it to hand.

Say, for example, you find yourself at an offsite client meeting, and you're looking for the slide deck containing your killer pitch. Because it was put together in PowerPoint rather than Google Slides, it's still on your workstation back at the office.

Or, heaven forbid, your office burns to the ground over the bank holiday. All of your business-critical files are, naturally, backed up to the cloud, so you can get back up and running relatively quickly, but what about the rest of it? All of the little bits and pieces here and there - the marketing assets, forecast spreadsheets and contracts that people didn't get around to uploading to the cloud - they all add up, and it will almost certainly prove to be a much bigger headache than you thought.

The moral of the story is this; when it comes to cloud storage, you have to be a zealot. When you make that jump, jump with both feet first, and make sure that the cloud is your first and most important storage location. (That's not to say you shouldn't have offline backups, of course, but that's another matter).

If you're not 100% on board with cloud storage, you'll end up with the worst of both worlds, because a partial cloud is no cloud at all.

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