7 Ways Cloud Computing Helps You Remain Compliant

Posted by David Aparicio

Apr 22, 2014 1:42:00 PM

7 Ways Cloud Computing Helps You Remain Compliant

Regulatory compliance has become an increasingly difficult process for small and medium-sized businesses, as the technology and operational procedures in use can quickly complicate matters. Files and information have moved into the digital arena rapidly, and few industries are completely outside of the sphere of data's influence. To ensure long-term continuity, regulatory compliance statutes that govern data management and information governance must be consistently met, and even exceeded at points. 

Regardless of which type of regulation a given firm must follow, be it the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act or Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards, strong information governance and technology provisioning practices can streamline the relevant requirements. Despite the complexity of these pieces of legislation, most compliance statutes boil down to simply protecting assets that can be used to steal identities, compromise accounts or mess with credit and medical histories. 

Although many companies were worried about compliant practices with cloud computing taking over more diverse areas of their IT operations, the technology can actually be viewed as a godsend in the modern era, as the services come with several advantages over traditional systems. Cloud services cannot truly be avoided anymore, especially when a company is trying to modernize its technological capacity and facilitate the launch of critical strategies, including mobility and big data. 

As such, taking a proactive and targeted approach to cloud services deployments with a specific focus on regulatory compliance can help businesses save themselves a world of hurt in the coming years. Here are seven ways cloud computing can streamline your company's regulatory compliance activities.

1. Centralization
More businesses are beginning to spread out, opening new office locations amid a healthier and more globalized economic situation. While this is certainly good news, it comes with several risks that directly relate to data sprawl, which happens to be one of the more common causes of non-compliance. However, with cloud-based solutions, companies will be able to centralize oversight and monitoring of information governance, reducing the amount of sprawl and cutting away the risk that comes with expansion. 

2. Digitization
In the most heavily regulated sectors - health care and financial services - trends have intensified that indicate an increasing shift toward digital platforms. In some instances, digitization of files and services is no longer optional, but rather a regulatory compliance requirement. One example is the meaningful use clause of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act. The cloud has become a common vehicle used to transport systems into digital environments, and can boost the efficiency of relevant compliance activities. 

3. Freeing up IT
Cloud computing can ease the transition into the digital era by taking the strain off the IT department and allowing staff to stay on on broader, more strategic initiatives. Rather than having to constantly focus on configuration, integration and general maintenance, which would be the case when legacy systems serve as the foundation, IT departments will have more time to monitor activity on the networks, support users and tackle complex compliance requirements each day. 

4. Inherent continuity
A major aspect of regulatory compliance is related to the firm's ability to recover data and systems when there is an outage. Hackers are far from being the only threat to information protection, as one glitch or slip-up can lead to massive volumes of data loss. The cloud, by its very definition, adds several layers of protection against service disruptions and data loss, leading to fewer threats to continuity and a more holistic disaster recovery process. 

5. Communications
Emails, letters and data in storage are not the only targets of regulatory compliance, but virtually all types of communication among employees and with clientele can sometimes fall under the umbrella of these restrictions. Cloud-based unified communications that include Voice over Internet Protocol phones, video conferencing and instant messaging services can help to once again centralize the process of managing compliant conversations and collaborations. Additionally, the cost-savings of this approach to UC and IT are vast. 

6. Enterprise mobility
Especially in the health care sector, enterprise mobility is becoming a more intrinsic component of IT, with physicians and other medical practitioners demanding the ability to use their personal devices at the point of care. With so many connected devices, compliant practices can be difficult to maintain. However, cloud computing bridges the gap and creates a more unified process for managers and executives, driving compliant activities regardless of the smartphones, tablets or portable computers in use. 

7. Agility
One of the common threads among regulators in the past few years is the modernization of legislation and compliance requirements in light of new technology. Because many types of regulatory compliance are increasingly in flux, companies need to have a certain level of flexibility with their management capabilities. The cloud offers exceptional agility for both IT and UC procedures, leading to a more amiable oversight process. 

Topics: IT Management