Software

Would you use a cloud-based service to store IT documentation?

Scott Lowe is thinking about using a free Microsoft service to store his organization's IT documentation. Share your thoughts about using an offline storage vault for this type of data.

Microsoft's free Office Live Workspace is a heavily customized SharePoint service that allows users to store documents of any type within the 5 GB service limit. Office Live Workspace is available via the Web, so if you're not able to access one of your usual machines, you can still access your files.

Microsoft provides add-ins for Office 2007 and Mac OS X that seamlessly integrate Office Live Workspace into Office 2007 and, to a lesser extent, Mac OS X. Mac users can use the Document Connection component, which does not integrate directly into Office for Mac -- it simply sits in the Dock. Document Connection isn't necessarily better or worse that the Windows solution -- it's just different.

Using Office Live Workspace for DR

Over the past couple of months, I've become a huge fan of Office Live Workspace. I use the service to store most of my articles since, on any given day, I might work on four or five computers, most of which are Windows machines. My laptop is a MacBook Pro (which also runs Windows 7 in VMware Fusion), so it used to be a real challenge to track personal documents.

I'm considering using Office Live Workspace for a Westminster College-related purpose -- that is, backing up IT documentation vital to rebuilding our infrastructure in the event of a disaster or in the event that a critical system fails and documentation is inaccessible.

At Westminster, we store most of our network, server, database, and other IT-related documentation in file shares on our primary file server. We back up this information and keep copies safely tucked away elsewhere, but the pure accessibility of a solution such as Office Live Workspace makes it a compelling option. Our documentation is protected, so I'd be comfortable storing it at Office Live Workspace or some other secure cloud-based host.

Are you using Office Live Workspace or any service like it as an offline storage vault for IT documentation? Take the poll and share your thoughts in the discussion.

Want to keep up with Scott Lowe's posts on TechRepublic?

About

Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive w...

20 comments
kubohao007
kubohao007

No,but I want to know some more about the Cloud-based service

meinwrack
meinwrack

We do something very similar. We have Cloud-based Storage but use TrueCrypt to create a secure file with our documentation. We even keep a copy of the TrueCrypt version used to create the file with the secure files for easy installation. We wouldn't consider storing such information in clear-text.

nglshmn
nglshmn

I use MS Mesh for ease of sharing and redundancy. It allows me to synchronize multiple copies seamlessly with my team and keep a copy up in the "cloud". Security is obviously a concern, but document encryption (winzip 256 bit) solves this. I know I can lose multiple PCs and still be able to access this data from anywhere.My only concerns are the limited size of the storage available, and the slight complexity of setting up the local synchronized folders. However, this solution gives me cloud resources AND local copies, which is important.

office
office

I am fine in storing my documents but not confidential agreements and all.

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

In some ways my documentation is already in the cloud. In my free email. Nothing that matters if some unknown accesses it. Nothing confidential. Just stuff that it is CONVENIENT to have universal access to. I am not a fan of "The Cloud" as a storage solution. Universal access is convenient but has its risks and downside as well.

ljbravob
ljbravob

I'm not pretty sure about security and confidentiality of Office live service, Do you have an idea about it?

jazzy5
jazzy5

This is more like giving security for convenience. Wasn't this what got Microsoft into trouble. Their OS was very easy and convenient to use but with many holes. Now with all the effort to securing their OS, people are claiming that it broke their program. This is not only in Microsoft but all the cloud computing. The hard question are: 1-How secure is my information in the cloud? 2-What we happen when the web is down? 3-How long can it be down without affecting my business? 4-What happen if the cloud company goes out of business? 5-What is the true cost? There will be a monthly charge bases in how many PC will have access to it vs buying the license for Microsoft Office. I could but the software for all my PC run it for 4, 5 or even 10 years. How much will it cost me in monthly charges for 5 to 10 years? 6-What happens if my business needs to cut cost? If a bought the software is mine for many years. But a monthly fee is something I will be not able to cut. There are too many questions but not enough answers.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I trust it for my less sensitive documents that I use, though I would still encrypt them. I doubt I would upload my network maps with ip addresses in Visio, I'm not sure if I trust it THAT much. :)

Kris.J
Kris.J

I would not use a cloud-based service to store IT documentation. It has become routine these days to hear in the news how such-and-such company has had their customer data compromised. The first step in compromising any given data set is physical access. My sensitive data (IT docs = very sensitive) stay where I have 100% control of physical access.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Based on your brief description of the type of data, I'd consider it. You haven't mentioned anything that involves privacy. DR procedures are pretty similar across organizations in the same 'industry', and those details specific to your installation wouldn't help another school. You're not losing a 'competitive advantage' to another school if the data is compromised. As long as you're maintaining separate off-line backups, this sounds like a near-perfect application for cloud storage.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

That document about how to get connected to the internet.... FFS

slatimer76
slatimer76

I am planning on using either MS Office Live Workspace or Google documents/calendar/mail. Both are accessible from the web, and ideal for document storage, when I do not have the capability or resources to keep it myself.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

An fully encrypted solution where my company alone hold the key and the data is just a copy - yes

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

He's discussion storing disaster recover documentation in the cloud. There probably isn't much sensitive, confidential, or proprietary information. In the event of a disaster, his DR procedures would be accessible from anywhere without requiring server room resources that may be physically damaged or without power. Unless the web is down at the same time he has a disaster, your second and third points don't matter. If the company goes out of business, he's got the local backup media he mentioned in the article. The data will only be accessed by IT personnel in a DR situation or for updates; those aren't frequent once the procedures aren't developed.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

He's discussion storing disaster recover documentation in the cloud. There probably isn't much sensitive, confidential, or proprietary information. In the event of a disaster, his DR procedures would be accessible from anywhere without requiring server room resources that may be physically damaged or without power.

mike_patburgess
mike_patburgess

MS in whatever flavor is a target and it is not from the 17 year olds but from those countries who see a need to capture your information and your identity. Encryption in whatever form is a joke. There is a need to prevent the intrusion or incursion from ever happening. There is only one way to do this; proprietary hardware intrusion prevention. At the present time, my advice is to keep your information close to home where you have control. This is your business data which has value. This is your company in digital form. Put your company on someone elses hardware is just asking for someone to steal your information especially if it is on MS. You might as well just tell the thief where to find your office keys.

Habif
Habif

If only a subset of documents is to be stored in the cloud then someone has to make a decision, someone has to remember that only that category of information is stored there but more importantly someone has to remember where it is stored (and how if encrypted) so that the document lifecycle can be managed. I see this scenario just another extension of "shelfware". Cloud has merits, accessible from "anywhere" - but then so is my USB stick - both have problems with security/privacy etc. I'm just a humble person who uses a computer, I know there are way too many people out there with superior skills, and personally the idea of my data being managed by other entities, who I can't see (I'm sure we have all read the "snooping admin" debate), even if I do have encryption ... just puts the risks too high for me - regardless of the information category. Sometimes being a Luddite is not such a bad thing ...

dmelo
dmelo

truecrypt container + dropbox = secure online cloud based storage where only I have the key :)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"...someone has to make a decision, someone has to remember that only that category of information is stored there but more importantly someone has to remember where it is stored (and how if encrypted) so that the document lifecycle can be managed. ... Cloud has merits, accessible from "anywhere" - but then so is my USB stick ..." All of the objections you raise regarding the cloud apply equally to your USB stick, with the USB drive having the added disadvantage of no one else being able to access it when you're not around.

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