How to be Smart about the Cloud
The cloud has been the key buzzword of the recent years. In the past 1 or 2 years, many claimed to introduce cloud computing to their workflow. Even the most conservative banks have started to question their old-fashioned ways. Interestingly, public cloud services are considered more and more often.
This trend is easy to explain: cloud computing allows for saving on one’s own facilities, such as hardware and software, administration and simplifies the process of scaling a business.
However all that glitters is not gold, and one should consider several important points before moving to the cloud.
We have analyzed our experience in cloud services and made a list of pitfalls that you want to avoid.
Cloud -Not a Cure-all Solution
Saving on in-house IT facilities is often the main reason for moving data to the cloud. However, this could be a false move without a deep analysis of the company workflow. There are times when internal processes, such as documents circulation, customer interaction and other are arranged in a way that makes introducing cloud solutions impossible. In such cases, trying to do so creates extra obstacles and extra expenses.
Cloud computing is a convenient and powerful tool, that, when used right, can help you refine business processes
Consequently, moving into the cloud and rectifying the errors might cost more than maintaining a local infrastructure. To avoid the fuss, it is advisable to “untie the knot” of internal working processes, reorganize them if needed and only then start to move the infrastructure to the cloud.
To make the move smoother, ask yourself the following questions:
• Is there a need to move all the data or just a part of it?
• Can I do without the cloud, if I get my current infrastructure straight?
• What’s the profit of moving into the cloud, if any?
• What are we going to use the cloud for and why?
• What’s the value of the remaining hardware and software and what to do with it?
The key to success in cloud computing is thorough preparation. All the information has to be properly documented, so you can see, what data is to be moved to the cloud, and what is there to stay local. As a result, the employees will know where to look for this or that datum and how to work with it.
Choosing the Right Provider
IT infrastructure is a crucial element of a business. That’s why it is critical that the cloud provider meets all your requirements.
Let’s say you are a medium-sized business. If you choose Amazon as your cloud provider, you’re not going to be among their top clients, no matter what it says in the SLA. In this situation, you can’t blame them for paying more attention to Walmart, for example, rather than your company.
Another unwanted scenario is when you are a large-scale company working with a small provider. Chances are that their servers will get overloaded, or the company will unexpectedly exit the industry.
So how do you choose the right provider?
Here are some tips for you to choose the right provider:
1. Find a well-balanced solution. Your provider has to meet your requirements and provide support specified in the agreement.
2. Double-check the consistency of their service by requesting and analyzing the logs. Pay special attention to uptime. In an ideal situation, their facilities should be available 24/7 or so.
3. Conduct a technical audit of the provider. Going the extra mile will pay you back, so hire an independent consultant if needed.
4. Make sure you agree on all points with the provider. Don’t compromise your work by agreeing on something that is not up to your standards. If you can’t find common ground from the beginning, it makes sense to look for a different provider.
Choosing the Right Tariff Plan
It’s a common mistake to strive for the same technical characteristics as before and pick a cloud service plan that does not meet business needs.
Don’t lose sight of the legal aspects, though. It is crucial to study the SLA carefully and ask questions. For example, if you had backup and encryption functions in your local infrastructure by default, you may have to pay an extra penny to your cloud provider for the same tools.
Before choosing a provider, try to come up with as many usage scenarios as you can. Consider high loads of data and extraordinary situations, for this will help you to fix a certain budget. Chances are that if you fail to do some thoughtful planning beforehand, cloud computing will cost you more than maintaining a local infrastructure, which contradicts the basic idea of the cloud – to save money.
Data Security and Control in Cloud
The main fear of potential cloud users is information leakage. However, there’s another gravely issue – loss of control over the infrastructure, which is not always the provider’s fault. Sometimes the reason is as simple as an unstable internet connection.
The following tips will help you gain a better control of your data and cloud connection:
1. Limit access to your data. Classify the potential cloud users and their access levels to reduce the risk of data leakage. It’s also important to restrict your provider from accessing your data. Quite often, cloud providers work with independent contractors, so find out if they can access your data. If they do, consider who these contractors are, what exactly they can do, how it can affect your business and act accordingly.
2. Secure and encrypt your data to protect it from outsiders.
3. Make sure you have a stable network connection. Internet is prone to failures, which, to some extent, is a problem with all providers, even the best ones. If you don’t have a stable connection, change your internet provider or have a reserve connection. If worse comes to worst, all the benefits of cloud computing may be brought to nothing, so try to take preliminary measures.
Internet bandwidth deficiency
Don’t underestimate the importance of Internet bandwidth. If you are an ADSL user, it’s likely that you will have to upgrade your tariff plan or, even better, setup an Ethernet connection.
It’s necessary that your cloud provider’s bandwidth is wider than yours for a stable connection, hence double check. Find out when your provider’s channels are heavily loaded and how it can affect the quality of their services.
Tip of the day: if you need to transfer an enormous load of data, it’s usually faster and cheaper to take a physical information carrier to the data-center.
Cloud computing is a convenient and powerful tool, that, when used right, can help you refine business processes. Always remember, though, that whatever happens to your Internet or cloud services provider, your data is your concern. It’s wise to conduct an independent audit from time to time, to avoid potential problems and have a sound sleep.