Do You Know Where Your Credit Union's Cloud Is?

bigstock-Quest-6585797-682991-edited.jpgAh, snow days. Depending on your age, stage in life, and where you live, that term can conjure up many emotions. Earlier this month, the internet delivered for millions their own version of a snow day when Amazon Web Services suffered a major outage. So major in fact, the term "internet snow day" quickly took over the main theme of memes for the week. It also quickly made credit unions question the true security and reliability of the cloud... and more importantly made credit union c-suites question WHERE their cloud is. 

On 2/28/17, at approximately 12:30 pm ET, and lasting close to five hours, the Amazon Web Service S3 cloud storage service experienced an outage that knocked out access to websites and apps that run on AWS, including but not limited to Expedia, Slack, even the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In fact, the S3 system that was knocked out is used by 148,213 sites, and, "north of three to four trillion pieces of data stored in it" according to market research firm SimilarTechThe outage even temporarily affected the AWS service health dashboard, which displays outages and events!

One outcome of this outage, other than #InternetSnowDay trending on Twitter, was the realization by many credit unions that they didn't know that services they use or companies they contract with are actually using Amazon's web services to store their data. Perhaps it was never disclosed where their data was actually being kept, or they were misled about "the cloud." CU's should know where their member data is.

The cloud isn't in the sky, it's a server somewhere. For this reason, it's important for you to do your due diligence with vendors and ask specifics.  Where is my data being stored? If it is in the cloud, which provider or does the vendor manage it? How secure is their data center? What are the SLA's? What is the expected uptime? Is redundancy practiced? What is the cloud providers plan in the event of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack? It is your duty to find out the answers to these critical questions before choosing a provider so your credit union isn't caught unprepared. 

Do outages like the AWS incident mean a credit union cloud solution isn't worth using? Absolutely not. Nor does it mean that AWS is an inferior service. You must realize that even the best infrastructure might blink every five years. Even if you kept all your data on paper and stored it in a vault, there are risks and drawbacks. It's important to embrace technology to keep your CU operations competitive and current. Credit union cloud computing has far more benefits than risks.

The cloud makes your CU function more efficiently. It saves on physical space demands for record keeping. It creates a more secure environment by allowing for constant backup and disaster recovery options. It allows your IT staff to focus less on hardware repairs and more on growing your credit union. It practically eliminates upfront capital expenditures on hardware, and the systems you do have are always up-to-date. Security in the cloud is best-in-class because cloud providers are at the forefront of IT security.

The cloud is no longer in the early adopter era... it's mainstream, and operational efficiency may decrease if you don't start integrating credit union cloud computing. As with any vendor relationship, it is up to you to do your homework on finding the right technology partner that cares about the security of your CU and of your membership. 

 Learn how the right core technology   can increase your credit union growth

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