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Where in The Cloud Are Your Records?

While it may sound like a breakthrough in technology, “cloud computing” may best be described as new vocabulary. In broad terms, “the cloud” is a metaphor for computer networks that host shared services and software. What has changed about network computing—and has been changing since we began using browser-based services for everything from shopping to socializing—is the distance between the average end-user and network hardware / support for systems that host electronic records and information.

In a blog post for AIIM ( link), ECM and Document Capture Architect Chris Riley makes the point that “cloud computing” is in part a marketing invention that helps users implement technologies that they may not understand beyond their own goals. Hosted solutions like “pay-per-use” and “software as a service (SaaS),” allow users lacking in tech-savvy to implement electronic records management systems without significant in-house support from IT. A standard workplace setup with desktop PC, Internet connection and browser is sufficient for hosted versions of sophisticated database systems.

The appeal of hosted solutions is obvious for small businesses and departments that lack significant IT support, but so is the challenge in maintaining recordkeeping requirements across an organization that implements multiple systems, each with its own architecture and security measures. A strategic alliance between records managers and IT professionals is needed to ensure RM success for systems both in-house and “in the cloud.” To prevent security breaches and loss of records and information, hosted system documentation should address network capacity, hardware, backup, security, records ownership and transfer protocol.

If “the cloud” remains the term of choice for the networks on which our business processes and records reside, then we must also be clear that networks are no more made of cloud-stuff than our desktop computers. Even as hosted systems become more seamless and user-friendly, the underlying data requires storage on network hardware and the human expertise to secure and run a computer network. The unclouded vision of an IT specialist can add much-needed knowledge (and established terminology) to the evaluation, documentation and management of new technologies, including hosted systems and software for electronic records management.

Recordkeeping Recommendation of the Week


Keep up with the information industry: ARMA International’s Hot Topic compilations offer multiple perspectives on popular topics. Read the Cloud Computing collection here.

Written by: AGriffin

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