What is cloud storage?
'The cloud' refers to a network of servers accessible via the internet. Cloud storage is the service that allows clients to save and access their digital documents on these servers. Cloud storage services are provided by large, sophisticated global companies such as Microsoft, IBM, Google and, in our case, with the largest marketshare, Amazon Web Services (AWS).
How can we use cloud storage through UnitiBase?
Documents can be created (e.g. a photograph or PDF) or scanned from paper, linked to a record, and stored 'in the cloud'. Once in the cloud documents are more accessible and can be shared. They can be accessed by field staff, staff at home, and by members themselves (if allowed) as well as by office-based staff. Documents are linked to member and project records in UnitiBase, and can be previewed and downloaded from the relevant UnitiBase screen.
Can we get our documents back from cloud storage?
Yes. If you ever decide not to continue with cloud storage through UnitiBase then all documents can be retrieved. They can be downloaded individually from UnitiBase or you may choose to have Capesso download documents. It may be possible to transfer documents to another AWS cloud storage account. Unions may also choose to set up and manage their own independent AWS account from the outset, and have their UnitiBase installation linked to their account.
Will our documents be accessible?
The provider we use, Amazon Web Services, is one of the largest global providers of cloud storage (https://aws.amazon.com). We consider that their resources, infrastructure and business practices make data loss and access problems unlikely - in our judgement less likely than the failure of local network storage, for example.
Will our documents be secure?
To access a document that is stored 'in the cloud' users must be logged in to UnitiBase. We recommend that highly confidential documents not be stored in the membership system at all and that all credit card details be obscured on any document, however and wherever it is stored.
Are there limits to how much we can store using the service?
There are limits to both the amount of storage and the bandwidth (data transferred via upload and download) but these limits are very high and unlikely to ever be exceeded in normal use.
How should we approach this decision?
We recommend that clients first investigate and consider whether cloud storage is a service appropriate for them. If so, then clients should consider whether its use from within UnitiBase brings additional advantages. Each client needs to consider their own needs, assess risks, seek advice from qualified sources, and take precautions that it considers appropriate.