With Forrester’s recent prediction that every business will become either a “digital predator” or “digital prey” by 2020, many Canadian businesses are eager to jumpstart their migration to the cloud.

However, while making a digital transformation can help businesses improve their operational agility, it can be risky. The U.S. National Cybersecurity Alliance estimates that six months after suffering an attack, 60 percent of companies go under — it’s not an issue to be taken lightly. 

While most companies have a great deal of expertise in their respective fields, they may not have extensive knowledge about securely managing customer data, making them easy targets. When it comes to data storage and management, they need to look to the experts.

Here are four questions businesses need to ask data management providers when they’re looking to undergo digital transformation and partner with a third-party cloud provider:

Is there flexibility within the solutions offered?

It’s not only about moving to the cloud. What companies really need is the expertise to help them find the right solution for their business.

For maximum portability and value from their existing business investments, companies should look for a partner that has a wide array of solutions and is focused on helping them identify whether their workload is best suited to a managed solution on physical infrastructure, or a cloud solution that meets their specific needs. Ultimately, this often becomes a hybrid solution. 

How secure is the data when in transport?

While most physical data centres offer Fort Knox-like protection, many third-party cloud providers are guilty of leaving their network exposed. This would be akin to a bank protecting millions of dollars with a secure vault, only to then transport the money in a sedan.

If your customers’ personal details and credit card information are unsecure in transit, then you haven’t secured any of your data. Businesses need to choose a provider that operates a robust network, so there’s the same level of security across the network as there is around the physical building.

Will important customer data stay in Canada?

With data sovereignty now a hot-button issue, it’s vital for Canadian organizations to know exactly where their customer data is at all times, where it’s being transferred, and how it’s being used. This includes both the physical data centre and the network. To keep your customer data protected and in compliance with Canadian residency requirements relevant to your business, you need to ensure it doesn’t pass through any networks that could be subject to international data laws or, even worse, unwanted surveillance. Choose a provider that takes a national cloud approach to data storage.

How proactive is the provider when it comes to protection?

Organizations need a solution designed to protect without impeding the speed of business. While your data and applications need to be safeguarded by multiple layers of security, this should not come at the expense of performance.

Using the earlier analogy, while it would be ultra-secure to seal off a bank completely, it wouldn’t be helpful for customers. A more progressive view toward security is to make sure the people coming into the bank are in fact customers, and do it in a way where it doesn’t take three hours for a customer to make a withdrawal.

How you set up the security infrastructure needs to be forward-looking. Flexible, scalable technology is essential. Businesses need a partner that offers proactive, built-in security end-to-end, so that as they grow, their applications, tools, and systems grow along with them, keeping them well protected.