Advice for Companies Moving to the Cloud and Common Misconceptions and Tips
We asked 31 Experts “What advice would you give to companies who are hesitant to make a move to the cloud? Do you have tips that address the common misconceptions or tips others can follow for a successful cloud implementation?” Here’s what they had to say:
Meet our Cloud Strategy Experts:
Steve Orrin, Senior Security Architect & Principal Engineer, Intel, Corp.
Steve Orrin is Senior Security Architect & Principal Engineer at Intel, Corp. and is responsible for Security Strategy and Architecture across Intel’s platforms. Steve joined Intel as part of the acquisition of Sarvega, Inc. where he was their CSO. Steve was previously CTO of Sanctum, a pioneer in Web application security, CTO and co-founder of LockStar, Inc. which provided enterprises with the means to secure and XML/Web Service enable legacy enterprise applications, and CTO/chief architect for SynData Technologies, Inc. a provider of desktop e-mail and file security products. Steve was named one of InfoWorld’s Top 25 CTO’s of 2004 and in 2009, was named a fellow at the Center for Advanced Defense Studies. http://www.intel.com/cloudsecurityhttp://www.intel.com/cloudsecurity
One area of concern from many organizations looking to move to the cloud is how to trust the infrastructure upon which their data and workloads will be run. Service providers have begun to support platform trust verification and attestation and the use of Trusted Compute Pools. Using technologies and products from hardware, software, virtual infrastructure and service providers together, tenants can now begin to attest to and audit the trust in the systems their workloads are running on as well define policies for provisioning, migration and data delivery based on trust. Trusted Compute Pools, also referred to as trusted pools, are either physical or logical groupings of compute resources/systems in a data center that share a security posture. This trust verification can be used to map into regulation and compliance requirements as well as be used as a control for enforcing corporate and industry security policies. Companies looking to move to the cloud and manage their compliance and risk profile should look for Cloud Service Providers that offer security and trust services and the ability to enforce and audit policy on the workloads and data that they are deploying.
Some good resources on establishing and using Trusted Compute Pools can be found at:
- Trusted Compute Pools with Intel® Trusted Execution Technology (Intel® TXT) – http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/architecture-and-technology/trusted-execution-technology/malware-reduction-general-technology.html
- NIST Interagency Report 7904: Trusted Geolocation in the Cloud: Proof of Concept Implementation (Draft) – http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/drafts/ir7904/draft_nistir_7904.pdf
- OpenStack: Open Attestation SDK – https://wiki.openstack.org/wiki/OpenAttestation
- “The Taiwan Stock Exchange Corporation Develops a Secure Cloud Infrastructure” – http://www.intel.com/content/dam/www/public/us/en/documents/white-papers/cloud-computing-txt-xeon-twse-whitepaper.pdf
Mark Levitt, Enterprise Research Analyst, Strategy Analytics
Mark Levitt is an enterprise research analyst at Strategy Analytics. He advises business cloud service providers and vendors on the most effective offerings and strategies for addressing the needs of small, medium and large customers and their ecosystem partners. Prior to joining Strategy Analytics, Mark led IDC’s messaging, collaboration, unified communications, and related enterprise software and services research. Mark also served as Director of Market Analysis and Analyst Relations at PTC, a product design and development software and services company.
Just try some. This is made easier by the fact that there is not one cloud but many clouds from which to choose. The easiest type of cloud service to try is Software as a Service (SaaS) cloud services because they often involve business applications with which users are already familiar. Go ahead and set up a trial subscription for web conferencing, content authoring, or customer relationship management (CRM) and start using it. Users may not notice any difference from using on-premise software, which is just fine. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) public or private cloud services are best tried with small, standalone projects requiring new computing and storage resources. Platform as a Service (PaaS) cloud services are best tried with developing and testing new mobile or web applications. In addition to trying public and private cloud services which are available from hundreds of web and cloud hosting service providers, ICT vendors, telecom operators, and systems integrators, companies can also try setting up their own private clouds using open source cloud platforms such as OpenStack, CloudStack or Eucalyptus, or cloud platforms from commercial vendors such as VMware and Microsoft.
Remember that moving to the clouds is easiest when you don’t try to boil the ocean all at once.
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Jared Wray, Tier 3 Founder & CTO
Jared Wray is founder and CTO of Tier 3. Jared founded Tier 3 in 2006 and today is the visionary architect of the company’s enterprise-class cloud management platform. To enable customers moving to IT as a Service, Jared has architected Tier 3’s cloud with advanced automation, orchestration, and fabric services.
Businesses need to move the cloud, simply because they are at a competitive disadvantage if they don’t. Companies that figure out how to harness the transformative power of cloud infrastructure, as well as platform services, will run circles around those that fail to do so. These “composable enterprises” – a term coined by Jonathan Murray– achieve incredible efficiencies related to launching new products, building tighter relationships with customers and partners, and streamlining internal processes. Cloud is a big deal for enterprise IT. But it doesn’t re-write the best practices for rolling out a new tech project. Here are 5 simple strategies we advise prospects and customers to follow when developing their cloud strategy.
Form a “Tiger Team” to Achieve Quick Wins and Pursue IT-as-a-Service
You can’t boil the ocean. So, identify and task a team of your best and brightest – including an executive sponsor – to aggressively identify and execute “easy win” cloud projects. There is a cultural component to this effort as well. This team should think about how IT can be reshaped to deliver IT-as-a-Service, where IT quickly and effectively responds to requests from other business units. Sound radical? It shouldn’t – you do this today whenever you tackle major IT initiatives, and when troubleshooting issues across business units.
Find The Right Public Cloud Provider
Next, you need to find the right cloud provider. There’s the saying that “the customer is always right but not every customer is the right one.” This is spot-on for cloud. Each cloud provider has something unique and valuable to your organization, but you can actually make a WRONG choice given your needs. There are many flavors of cloud – public, private, hybrid, and managed and so on. In our view, public cloud has done the most thus far to disrupt (in a good way) IT as sense. So let’s start there. Despite what you may read in the mainstream press, public cloud infrastructure is not a commodity. Gartner (and others) agree on this point. The market has matured a bit, and there are three types of providers that we see:
- Do It Yourself. Innovative cloud services, with a heavy dose of human effort to enable advanced configurations. These are very popular for startups and developer-centric organizations. Enterprises are taking a look at these as well. Keep in mind that the human cost with these clouds will be higher than you may expect, because some assembly is required.
- Managed. These are offered by very large MSPs and traditional IT providers. These have some enterprise capabilities, but a slower pace of innovation and come with the risk of vendor lock-in. The vendor’s employees run the day-to-day operations of the cloud, eliminating the “do it yourself” component for added cost.
- Specialized Providers. These providers seek to fill a specific niche for a particular market (say Node.js applications, SAP deployments, or accelerating enterprise IT efficiency). They have unique cloud capabilities aimed at distinct segments, with rapid innovation and specialization.
The goal here is to strike a balance between agility (giving business users flexibility, self-service, and speed) and control (by providing an IT-approved environment that doesn’t compromise security and compliance). Again, think about how you do choose providers today – you have vendor assessment checklists, preferred vendor lists, and sourcing departments that vet industry players. For the enterprise in particular, you may want to refresh these materials with respect to security, compliance, performance, high availability, SLAs, and disaster recovery functions. Also, think “big picture” – about the total cost of ownership of the cloud. Depending on your needs, the sticker price for compute, storage, and network services could be a smaller component of your monthly bill. One note of caution: Many providers dress up traditional hosted offerings and call it cloud. This a phenomenon known as “cloudwashing,” and it just wastes your time and money. To avoid getting cloudwashed, make sure your chosen provider has the core elements of cloud computing: on-demand resources, self-service capabilities, scalable virtual machines, and measurable usage (hat tip to Dave Nielsen for this definition).
Find Shadow IT and Learn from It
You’ve likely read negative press about “shadow IT” and may even have corporate initiatives to stamp it out.
But why does it exist? Typically because there’s an unmet need, and solution-driven individuals come up with non-standard answers that don’t involve IT. These unauthorized products often don’t meet enterprise security expectations, are invisible from audits, become too big (or important!) to stay local, and don’t end up feeding innovative ideas back to the rest of IT. We recommend that you find these employees, learn what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and make these some of your earliest adoptions (and champions!) of cloud efforts. Instead of suppressing and demoralizing these individuals, put their action-oriented behavior into above-board IT efforts.
Learn and Enable Best Practices in the Cloud
Discover best practices in the cloud and encapsulate those in new procedures for application design, provisioning of resources, and ongoing support. Two key tenants:
- Automation. You can radically reduce the human cost of IT if you take advantage of this core concept. Provisioning, deployment, updates, scaling, and scheduled maintenance can all be automated, including with APIs.
- Self service. Empower users to be creative and build solutions in an approved, compliant way. This approach will help you be more responsive to changes in your company or industry. Again, APIs can be a catalyst.
You should also encourage your “tiger team” to get their hands dirty! Senior architects and developers should ALL have accounts across cloud platforms. Sandboxes have never been more affordable.
Assess Apps to Migrate
This step is similar to some of our other recommendations. You consider this today whenever new platforms – and upgrades to existing platforms – become available.
For cloud, though, there are some unique considerations:
- Not every application is a fit to move, and some may say that MOST application should just stay where they are.
- Cloud isn’t application hosting so you can’t just put an app in the cloud and expect maximum performance and scalability
- You should be targeting cloud for NEW capabilities that may front existing business systems
Specifically, customer should consider moving:
- Custom, service-oriented web applications, based on modern development technologies
- Apps/facades for mobile users
- Public internet facing applications
- Bursty, unpredictable applications
- Low risk, or least differentiating (the ones that are vanilla packaged apps like Exchange or SharePoint)
Apps to keep in place:
- Those with extensive integration with on-premise systems
- Monolithic apps that can’t be broken apart and require a small number of massive servers
- Heavy I/O apps or those tuned to specific hardware
Cloud can be seen as incredibly easy or incredibly daunting, depending on who you listen to. The reality, as is usually the case, is somewhere in between. But these 5 practical, achievable steps, will put you well on your way to achieving a competitive advantage from the cloud.
Isaac Mosquera, Director of Mobile, ShareThis
Isaac is currently the Director of Mobile at ShareThis, Inc. ShareThis powers the social web, touching the lives of 95% of U.S. Internet users across more than 2.3 million publisher sites and 120+ social media channels. Most recently, Isaac was the co-founder of Socialize, Inc which was acquired by ShareThis in March 2013. Prior to Socialize, Isaac co-founded PointAbout, a mobile development consultancy which built apps for companies like Disney, Cars.com and Washington Post. PointAbout was acquired in May 2011. Previously he lead efforts to bring XM Radio’s satellite business to the web.
A common misconception with the cloud is that it’s more expensive than running your own infrastructure. If you solely look at the hardware costs to compare with traditional datacenter costs then you’re not taking into all the factors.
Cost of Administration – One thing that is difficult to take into account is the additional over head needed to manage your infrastructure. It’s not just about more employees but also the organizational complexities surrounding a larger workforce. Quick changes in organizational strategies may demotivate your employees so you’ll have to think more about messaging. You’ll also have to consider different hiring strategies to make sure you’re getting the best employees. These are some of the costs that go into hiring a larger workforce which sometimes are overlooked.
Speed to market – It’s nothing new, computer hardware changes fast. Days matter when going to market. Are you willing to wait weeks before that new hardware gets ordered shipped, racked and setup just to begin software development? Your competitors aren’t willing to wait, so why should you? Let the cloud worry about testing to make sure new infrastructure and software is production ready so you can focus on building value for your customer.
Automated Everything – Instead of having manual intervention when errors or issues come up, the cloud can be fully automated with scripts and alerting. It’s simple to setup an additional 1 box or 1,000 boxes with a “flip of a switch”. The power and flexibility this gives you will be an edge against your competitors. This also means you can response to issues faster while reducing your overall support costs.
These are just a few ways to think about how the cloud will have a smaller TCO than your traditional infrastructure. In the end, The cloud can make most companies a leaner, faster and less costly organization to support.
Nelson Nahum, Co-Founder CEO, Zadara Storage
Nelson brings over 20 years of experience in the storage industry in multiple storage software development positions. He is known for creating innovative products and successfully bringing them to the market. Prior to co-founding Zadara Storage, he was a Fellow and Vice President of Software Engineering at LSI Corporation, where he was responsible for an engineering team of over 250 people. Previously he was CTO and co-founder of StoreAge Networking Technologies, which was acquired by LSI in 2006. At StoreAge, he invented the out of band storage virtualization system, building and leading the engineering to a successful product that was adopted by HP and lead to the acquisition of StoreAge by LSI. Nelson holds multiple patents related to storage systems. Nelson has a B.Sc EE from the Technion, the Israeli Institute of Technology.
1. Leverage the cloud model – try before you buy
One of the biggest advantages of the cloud is its model – you can try it without any commitment. The only initial commitment is the time (and sometimes fee) spent on the trial to do testing. To that extent, it is far easier, simpler and quicker to try the cloud than trying out any new device or software that needs to deployed on premise. It can be deployed immediately and instantly, and with no obligation.
2. Test your real workloads
My next recommendation is to try serious workloads. Maybe it’s your next project that should already be deployed in the cloud. Very often, it’s hard to see the whole picture if all you do for testing is deploy a couple of VMs. Begin by deploying a real application; it forces the team to think about the size of the VMs, the networking and the storage needed, and paints a clear picture of all elements: from price, through technical challenges and how to leverage cloud elasticity and agility.
3. Test at various cloud providers
Another important aspect, is to decide which cloud provider best serves your current needs and unique requirements. Selecting the cloud provider, may require at first to deploy in 2 or 3 cloud providers in order to compare their cloud features, support and prices.
4. Don’t delay
Finally, I would say that if you are hesitant, the sooner you start trying using the cloud, the better. The cloud is, and will continue to expand as, a competitive advantage. And at the end of the day, you will need to work with a combination of public and private clouds in order to take advantage of the “as a service” business model and the agility that the cloud provides. The sooner you learn how to best use this tool and platfrom, the sooner you will reap its rewards.
Dave Welch, Co-Founder, House of Brick Technologies
Dave Welch is a co-founder of House of Brick Technologies. He serves as House of Brick’s CTO & Chief Evangelist. He has been a key facilitator in the on-going right sizing of millions of dollars of hardware and software. Dave combines Oracle and VMware’s industry-leading technologies for the optimization of DR, HA, operations, and the significant optimization of the product development lifecycle. He pioneered the use of virtualization for the delivery of Oracle University Partner-provided RAC classes. Dave is in-demand as an Oracle VBCA architect, and has a reputation for enabling the masses with no strings attached.
Answer: Understand that they can run Oracle on a sub-set of vSphere servers in a vSphere cluster without having to license the entire cluster for Oracle. Read their Oracle License and Services Agreement (OLSA). Then have their legal team review the OLSA. If in doubt, get help from a third-party Oracle licensing expert.
Most corporations that are venturing into running their production Oracle database workloads on virtualization are opting initially to place those workloads on private (internal) clouds. Oracle has two different licensing metrics: processor-based, and named user. The processor-based licensing metric is popular with production workloads. Oracle Corporation loves to tell processor-based licensing metric customers that if they run their Oracle workloads on any subset of VMware vSphere hosts in a larger vSphere cluster, that they have to license all hosts in the cluster for Oracle. For many customers, the prospect of having to license an entire vSphere cluster could be far more expensive than leaving their Oracle workloads on native (non-virtualized) hardware servers.
The fact is that there is no foundation for Oracle’s assertion either in the Oracle License & Services Agreement or in U.S. case law. The financial, operational, and business continuity benefits of running Oracle databases on vSphere are so compelling that it’s high time that organizations took the time to understand what their Oracle licensing contractual rights really are.
VMware Corporation sought my input for their whitepaper “Understanding Oracle Certification, Support and Licensing for VMware Environments” published November 2011. I was the paper’s primary non-VMware Corporate contributor. Section 2.2 “Clusters: Fully Licensed Versus Partially Licensed Clusters” sub-heading “Scenario B: Partially Licensed Clusters” on p. 6 discusses sub-cluster licensing.
Whitney Vickrey, Chief Service Officer, GCE
Whitney Vickrey is Chief Service Officer at GCE, a leading cloud-based financial accounting services provider. Whitney has spearheaded the creation of the GCE consulting practice by leveraging her knowledge of finance, IT, risk management, and Federal government regulations. Utilizing her executive talents in management consulting and client relationship development, the practice has evolved from inception to maturity.
As cloud computing becomes more pervasive and delivers tangible benefits to the enterprise, concerns that decision makers have about transitioning to the Cloud continue to fade. That said, misconceptions still exist that either cause organizations to hesitate in transitioning their premise-based enterprise systems to the Cloud, or to discount the cloud alternative entirely.
Through our lens as a cloud-based financial accounting services provider, financial processes and financial data are very core to the business operations of our customers. For that reason, unsurprisingly, misconceptions tend to revolve around data security, system reliability, data control, perceived complexities around integrating cloud services with other business processes, and even costs involved with a Cloud implementation. Cloud vendors have invested significant resources, manpower and technology innovation into addressing these misconceptions in the following ways:
1. Security: While a legitimate concern, cloud-based, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms can still safely handle sensitive financial information. Cloud vendors stake their entire reputation on their ability to provide secure service, and a significant amount of financial information is already stored safely in the Cloud, including payroll and banking.
2. Reliability: Business decision makers often place the Cloud in one big bucket when analyzing reliability and performance. They might read in the news of a Google outage or other disruptions to services accessed through a public cloud. The fact is that cloud-based applications can ensure 99.9+% uptime, guaranteeing availability and continuity equal to and exceeding the reliability of premise-based solutions. Plus, cloud providers incorporate the most stringent security and compliance controls to maintain the integrity, confidentiality and availability of data.
3. Control: Business decision makers want to ensure that they have access to their data whenever they need it. While it’s understandable that executives don’t want to forgo ownership, this isn’t how the cloud works; just because the data is outside the walls of the organization doesn’t mean that it’s open to the public. The Internet is simply the delivery method for the technology.
4. Integration: Decision makers don’t want an outlier system that runs independently from the rest of their operations. Many cloud/SaaS companies understand that and are getting proactive about integrating with e-commerce or other CRM tools. Organizations shouldn’t assume that a cloud-based system couldn’t be integrated.
5. Costs: While it is true that enterprises often expect to experience real and immediate cost savings once they fully transition to the Cloud, there is still a belief among some that it would be cheaper to simply upgrade an existing legacy system rather than undertake a Cloud implementation. In reality, system upgrades can be very costly on the front-end, and even costlier over time as IT is forced to spend more time and resources troubleshooting issues and simply keeping an aging system running. Organizations must take a wider cost view that encompasses hardware, software, IT staffing, security and operations, and maintenance support to fully gauge if the costs of a upgrading an existing system outweigh the benefits.
Shell Black, President and Founder, ShellBlack.com
A Salesforce.com implementation partner located in Dallas TX. Shell has been consulting on Salesforce.com since 2005, has personally completed over a 100 projects, and holds multiple Salesforce certifications.
Just because you can put all your data in the cloud, doesn’t mean you should.
There are many cloud services that make a lot of sense for businesses of all sizes – my favorites being Google Gmail for email and Salesforce.com for CRM and back office. That being said, I think CTOs need to look at all their data assets and determine the value of that data (to both users or from an analytics perspective) if the information resided in the cloud or on premise. Does 15-year-old daily transactional information really need to be in the cloud (which has a cost), or can you simply store summary level information (e.g. monthly snapshots)?
Start your valuation analysis by answering the following: (1) where does the data reside today, (2) what’s the level of effort to get that data into the cloud, (3) which users need access to that data and how frequently, (4) is the information static or dynamic (i.e. will this be a one-time data migration or do we need to build an integration), (5) how much information needs to be moved and can we transpose or summarize the information to be more efficient with storage, (6) will having the data in the cloud make it more accessible to users (e.g. via mobile devices or by eliminating a VPN connection) or to other systems (via an API or Web Services)
Michael Amadio, Director of Marketing, Excel Micro
One of the industry’s premier distributors partnering with leading providers of best-of-breed cloud security. Excel Micro eliminates the need for resellers to have multiple contracts and relationships with providers such as McAfee®, Proofpoint™, and Google™, by giving valued partners the ability to self-provision these solutions along with multiple other market leaders, under one Universal Service Agreement.
As a distributor of cloud security solutions we have worked with a very diverse client base over the past 10-15 years. We focus primarily on email security in the cloud. When presenting to customers their first concern is with security and having a solution not on premise. Moving a solution to the cloud is actually more secure than having something on premise because it is now in the hands of the experts and in data centers with multiple failovers and redundancy. Cloud solutions also updated seamlessly constantly for the latest threats so there is never any maintenance. Also companies save on bandwidth because they are not hosting a box, they are just purchasing a license or paying for usage. Most solution include direct phone and email support so there is no need for an outside technician to be onsite and charging a large hourly service fee. All of this equal a lower total cost of ownership and a solution that is more robust and dynamic to keep up with all of the latest threats that may harm your network.
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Ryan Kraudel, Director of Marketing, 6fusion
An IT infrastructure services company that leverages the unprecedented insights gained from IT infrastructure metering to help you understand what the data is telling you and how you can use the data to improve your cost structure, infrastructure efficiency and ultimately make better IT infrastructure decisions.
One of the biggest challenges we see in organizations moving to the cloud is understanding what IT infrastructure capacity they currently have, what they are actually using (sometimes very different from what they think), and how those consumption patterns change over a period of time BEFORE making the move to the cloud. It’s surprising how many companies start the move to the cloud without those insights.
Then the challenge is being able to do an apples-to-apples comparison of their infrastructure and usage to what that would look like in the cloud. 6fusion has a patented IT infrastructure metering technology that helps organizations do exactly that. There’s much more to the story but you can get more information at www.6fusion.com.
Dan Borgasano, Public Relations Manager, Imprivata
An IT Solutions company that specializes in helping organizations secure their networks and ensuring emr adoption by offering single sign-on solutions for health information access. Imprivata recently published its 2013 Desktop Virtualization Trends in Healthcare report, which is our third-annual survey about the adoption rates and benefits of desktop virtualization (and this year, cloud-based applications) in healthcare. Some of the findings regarding cloud computing section might be relevant for your article.
Cloud Computing Findings
Adoption of cloud-based applications and services in healthcare is increasing more quickly than expected, with 30 percent of respondents indicating that they are using cloud computing today (up from nine percent from the 2012 survey). In particular, storing protected health information (PHI) in the cloud is becoming more commonplace, with 40 percent of respondents that use cloud services indicating that they store PHI in the cloud today (up from nine percent from the 2012 survey).
While the use of cloud-based services and applications in healthcare is increasing, 71 percent of healthcare organizations currently using cloud computing work with just one or two vendors. And despite working with a limited number of vendors, 16 percent of healthcare respondents using cloud computing today do not have HIPAA BAAs in place with all of their vendors.
For healthcare organizations that have no plans to adopt cloud computing, security remains the primary barrier, but 17 percent cite the top reason as “cloud services vendors do not offer HIPAA Business Associate Agreements.”
Mark Gordon, Enterprise Architect, Aptera Software
Mark Gordon works at Aptera Software that’s headquartered in Fort Wayne, Indiana with a satellite office in Nashville, Tennessee. He has 20 years of experience in business computing, 14 of which were at Microsoft, where he won Top Customer Satisfaction and Top Partnership awards. As a Cloud Architect, Mark helps companies integrate coordination tools like Microsoft Office 365 into their overall business and IT strategy. His certifications include both Microsoft technology, as well as ITIL IT Service Management. And when he’s not taking companies into the cloud he loves capturing industrial soundscapes and incorporating them into musique concrète compositions.
Cloud Computing has recently become mainstream and as a result companies are having to re-evaluate how they deliver IT services. While there are clear opportunities to save money and improve service in the cloud, there are risks to moving some data or workloads to the cloud and good and bad times to move others. A good cloud plan for moving to the cloud includes a risk analysis and mitigation plan, a long term plan for how all of the expected cloud and on premise components will work together and a phased implementation plan that will allow the company to start moving the appropriate services into the cloud at the appropriate times.
Cloud Computing is complicated
- If you approach the cloud by looking at the individual services that are available it actually gets pretty simple
- Many of the same services that you provide today are available in the cloud in an easy to adopt format, things like e-mail, file shares etc. are often less complicated than what you are doing on premise Cloud Computing is an all or nothing game
- Executed properly, you can choose what you put in the cloud and what you keep on premise, you will not need to move everything and can move what you want to when it makes the most sense
- A good cloud adoption plan makes use of existing on premise resources and allows you to or to take advantage of your existing resources, look for cloud services that easily integrate with your existing systems and security models.
Adopting Cloud Computing will mean a big change to my environment and will be difficult for my people to get used to
- If you have worked out the security and networking properly, your people should not notice a difference in how they access basic services when you move them to the cloud
- Adding new services in the cloud can also be done in a way that integrates with your on premise passwords and existing desktop environment
Have a plan. Moving to the cloud is not rocket science but you do need a plan that lays out how you will stitch everything together in the long term and what you will decide what to put in the cloud.
That plan should include:
- A catalog of services you are using in your business, things like, email, CRM, file shares, applications that you host yourself today. This will help you target specific cloud services that you can adopt to replace your current on premise systems.
- Your financial model for your current on premise IT services, how much is it really costing you to provide the people, hardware, software, networking, service, space etc. Knowing when you will need to replace or upgrade on premise systems will provide you great triggers to evaluate cloud solutions at that time.
- A long term architecture plan for integrated security, networking and data sharing between your, user environment, on premise services and cloud services. Use this to help in evaluating which cloud offerings make the most sense for you long term.
- An adoption plan that includes low hanging fruit that can be implemented quickly while building a base that will support your long term plans
Used a phased approach
- Start with a pilot of something well defined like e-mail or file sharing. Get the right people involved, ones who can really validate if the system you are testing works in your business and act as champions to get the project completed.
- Start with new acquisitions, this can be a great way to avoid having to expand existing on premise systems
Mark Shirman, President and CEO, RiverMeadow Software
Mark Shirman is President and CEO at RiverMeadow Software where he brings almost thirty years of entrepreneurial experience in the IT arena. He received his BA in Economics from Brandeis University and his MBA from American University.
Businesses of all sizes are considering how they can benefit from moving their IT operations into the cloud. For some, the cloud is a blank page that offers a world of new resources. Others would like to move their current IT software solutions into the cloud to receive the performance, cost and management benefits of the cloud. Today, many companies are facing similar challenges when migrating to a cloud environment. Increasingly, rogue IT spend is leading to uncontrolled cloud sprawl, which is affecting budgets, threatening the security of critical business data and leading to disparate workloads throughout the cloud.
An important upshot of the cloud is the positive impact on IT organizations.. Many businesses have been on a never-ending cycle of trying to keep up with user demands for development and maintenance of customized business systems. At the same time, businesses have been trying to control costs and IT increasingly has been seen as too tactical and unable to reduce its burn rate. Companies want to see IT take a strategic role in the business. The cloud offers enormous opportunities for IT to break the vicious cycle demanded by traditional legacy systems in the physical data center.
The cost and complexity of migrating virtual, physical or cloud-based servers into the cloud can be overwhelming – averaging thousands of dollars per server and man-months’ worth of operational effort. By taking the proactive role of moving workloads to the cloud, IT can reduce costs, increase management control, and build a strategy for continuing productivity improvements.
Emil Sayegh, President and CEO, Codero Hosting
Emil is an early pioneer of cloud computing and is recognized as one of the industry’s only true veterans. A cloud visionary, he is credited with launching and leading the very successful cloud computing and hosting businesses for HP and Rackspace. Emil joined Codero Hosting as President and CEO in January 2012 and is leading the next generation of cloud computing with the hybrid cloud. He now serves as president and CEO of Codero Hosting.
It is easy and inexpensive to try the cloud, so get your credit card out and try it for one of your applications that is a good fit for cloud. Cloud should be part of any IT strategy, nowadays. If fears and myths about security are holding you back, remember cloud has the same level of vulnerability as in-house-run infrastructure.
Find a cloud vendor that can accommodate all your needs and give you unbiased advice. Hybrid clouds that bridge between “public clouds” and traditional dedicated infrastructure are the future, especially for companies making this transition. Find a company that you can truly partner with — one that has great uptime, good customer service, and a robust hybrid cloud offering. Hybrid cloud will ease all issues when transitioning from traditional infrastructure to cloud. It allows you to put the apps that work on cloud in their proper infrastructure, while keeping the apps that need traditional infrastructure on dedicated servers.
Christopher Stark, President and CEO, Cetrom Information Technology, Inc
Christopher Stark is the president and CEO of Cetrom Information Technology, Inc. (Cetrom), which he founded in 2001. Backed by over 25 years of experience in all facets of the IT industry, and holding some of the industry’s most prestigious technical certifications, Stark has his finger on the pulse of the IT industry and eyes toward the future.
Stark is a husband, father, licensed pilot, self-proclaimed computer geek and avid golfer. He grew up in Washington, D.C. and still lives in the metropolitan area with his family today.
What companies need to know when selecting a cloud provider based on questions such as:
- How flexible is their Cloud?
- What is the pricing structure?
- What level of support can I expect?
- What can you tell me about your data center?
- How secure is your Cloud?
By determining the answers to these questions, companies can find the best match in a cloud provider, and fully realize all the benefits the cloud has to offer. Read more in Cetrom’s blog post – How to Choose a Cloud Computing Provider: 10 Questions You Must Ask: http://www.cetrom.net/blog/how-to-choose-a-cloud-computing-provider-10-questions-you-must-ask/
Tim Morgner, President, CSI
Tim Morgner is the President of CSI, a 15 year old firm providing quality IT Solutions that help guard your company’s information. Tim has over 25 years of experience in the computer and business process world and has provided cutting-edge technology solutions for small, medium and large size firms crossing many different business verticals. We have helped many companies decipher the “cloud” buzz and how it should be applied to their unique business based on their unique needs. Tim believes that business owners need to be educated on the different options available to them as it relates to the vague term of “Cloud Computing”.
I recommend that a company looking to move to the “cloud” asks themselves the following questions: Define what “cloud” means in their mind – is it moving their existing servers and systems to another facility or installing their applications on another server in one of these cloud data centers? These are two very different scenarios and are often mistaken by the business world. What is the main reason, in their mind, for going to the “cloud”? What are they trying to accomplish? Is there a better, more effective or lower cost solution to consider other than the cloud? Who is accessing these systems and where are these users located?
I suggest that a company looking to utilize cloud technology should look for a cloud partner that can show demonstrated success in high uptime or availability of their systems. We suggest asking questions such as: How many outages have they had in the past 12 months? What is the maximum capacity of their systems and how loaded are they currently? Where are their centers located and what are the Disaster plans? How much bandwidth is available in their centers and with how many different carriers?
Typical “cloud computing partners” offer different levels of service and they are usually scalable based on needs – in other words, if today your application requires only minimal CPU horse power then you can start with a low amount of CPU cycles – if in the future you require more, you can usually add them very easily but at an additional cost. The same applies for memory, hard drive space, etc.
Many companies make the mistake of not having a data backup plan when moving to the cloud – they think their data is automatically protected but in many cases it is not. Many cloud partners offer redundant options – for example, Amazon offers redundant storage arrays – one on the east coast and one on the west coast – the data is constantly copied between the two facilities. In the event of an a problem at one center, the system can failover automatically to the other center. Crisis Management plans are very subjective and are very unique to each business. We usually meet with our clients business leaders to help them understand the ramifications of data loss, system unavailability as it relates to their business. Recent “superstorms” in the Northeast have opened the eyes of many businesses, large and small, as to how they will continue to operate their worldwide business when there is no power or data communications in the Northeast (in this example). It is important for these businesses to understand their dependency on their systems and the access to them.
Michael Bremmer, CEO, Telecomquotes
Michael has specialized in telecommunications for 22 years working with small & medium sized businesses at a young age. He has a proven track record of helping companies reduce operating cost and improve operational efficiency.
With cloud, there are some definite “watch out for that tree” items.
- What is your highest and best expectation/goal of moving to the cloud? Many companies “move the cloud” because it’s cheaper…remember, you get what you pay for and many cases cloud isn’t cheaper, especially if you don’t meet your business goals.
- Have a undo plan or at least a copy of your data. Ask your cloud provider to clearly define (in writing) what their migration plan looks like should you decide to leave. Most cloud providers are like Hotel California, “you check out anytime you like but you can never leave”.
- Get some references from your cloud providers, especially ones that will talk about challenges they had and how your provider addressed them.
- Call into customer service, Monday morning, 8am. How does it take them to answer the phone?
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Jeff Grace, President and CEO, NetEffect
Jeff Grace is the President and CEO of NetEffect, a Las Vegas based company that provides business-class IT support, computer consulting, and business phone systems for VoIP. Jeff has consulted for companies such as the New York Times, Cannondale, Fiduciary Trust and the Massachusetts Port Authority.
As a cloud services provider, we find many organizations are hesitant to move to the cloud because they think the transition is going to be very disruptive. On the contrary, we build an organization’s technology infrastructure on our cloud platform long before the actual migration takes place so that ample time can be dedicated to testing before the cutover. My biggest suggestion (see attached for more) is for organizations to take a little bit of time to educate themselves about cloud computing. There are so many options, and cloud computing can mean a lot of different things; a little education will go a long way and will ultimately lead to a higher probability of success.
Suresh Venkatachari, Chairman & CEO, 8KMile
Suresh Venkatachari is Chairman & CEO of 8KMile and has more than 24 years of experience in the IT solutions and consulting industry. As a successful entrepreneur, he has founded four IT companies over the past 14 years-successfully taking two of these public and selling the other two. Prior to this, Mr. Venkatachari was the Head of Electronic Banking at Deutsche Bank, Singapore. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering and an honorary Doctorate in Business.
Companies hesitant to migrate to the cloud should make sure that they have a reliable partner to help guide them through the process, ensure that their information is secure in a virtual private cloud if necessary, and equip them with an on-demand application development team should they have questions along the way. Companies should also consider key issues like the capacity needs of the infrastructure, security options available, and whether the information will be kept in a scalable and secure cloud architecture.
For successful cloud implementation, companies should address a few things:
- Identify & address Personal clouds and mobile security – With so many employees accessing their work documents on Google Docs or Dropbox, sometimes from their mobile devices, it’s important to implement a secure cloud solution to encourage collaboration without imposing significant barriers to employee productivity.
- IConfirm a migration strategy – With the decision to move to a private cloud, companies will need to decide on the best migration strategy to ensure a seamless transition, with the least amount of application disruption and without stretching the process over days or weeks.
- IUtilize Identity and Access Management – When multiple users require different levels of security credentials for varying levels of data access, roles can be managed through the use of Identity and Access Management. IAM enables users to control access to specific resources using existing identity systems.”
Patrick Stonelake, Co-Founder and VP of Business Development, Fruition Partners
Patrick Stonelake is Co-Founder and VP of Business Development at Fruition Partners. Fruition Partners employees more than 200 cloud specialist that assist companies like Coca-Cola, Target and GE transition their old IT management systems into ServiceNow – the leading cloud-based service automation platform.
From a service management perspective, the biggest impact that cloud technology has had on IT and the businesses they support is the way it has changed the behavior and expectations of its customers. It is strange to think of your company being in competition for the technology appetite of your employees, but that is what the cloud has brought about. The feedback loop between SaaS technologies and its end-users has led to vast improvement in the experience of web technologies like Facebook, Gmail, Mint, Yammer, file sharing, productivity – you name it. Meanwhile traditional enterprise applications have floundered – leading to an increasing gap between people’s personal cloud experience and the experience delivered by the tools they rely on in their work environment.
An increasing number of these tech-savvy employees are just bypassing IT and Operations entirely, buying technology on an as-needed basis with a credit card. This introduces news risks into the enterprise and also leads to a loss of central access to crucial information – all of which can be mined for strategic advantage.
It is important to determine the importance of the user experience and the usefulness of the tool you wish to use in the cloud. It is also important to understand the possible cloud competitors of the tools you intend to migrate. When cruise ships and airplanes were new technology, they stressed the user experience in order to make the new technology appealing. It is not enough to simply unplug from one type of architecture and plug into another- you need to take lessons from the superior feedback loops of cloud-based software and agile development practices to deliver an efficient and ultimately useful experience.
At Fruition Partners, we also recommend to our clients that they look down the road and capture the eventual roadmap of their cloud strategy at a high level, so that as you evaluate specific toolsets you can assure that current and planned capabilities sync with organizational needs. This requires not only a well-designed and configurable native toolset, but also a powerful platform capability and flexible integration architecture.
Finally, organizations will want to find an experienced implementation and process partner to guide them through the migration journey. It is tempting to view the cloud environment as “one size fits all” but when the IT department is serving thousands of internal and external customers every decision about configuration and roadmap has ripple effects that introduce complexity. Invest in expert assistance with requirement gathering, design, deployment, and organizational adoption. As your new environment continues to mature, you will be very happy to have a partner you can trust.
David Longnecker, Vice President of Development, Tracky, Inc.,
David Longnecker is Vice President of Development at Tracky, Inc., a social collaboration and publishing platform. David is an application architect with a passion for designing right-sized solutions for customers of all sizes and an eye towards process improvement, agile development, and focusing on the people involved with technology and technology’s role within the enterprise, not as a replacement for individuals, but as a tool to empower users.
David was recently invited to speak, along with the CEO of cloud infrastructure provider CloudSigma, at the Cloud4SMB Expo in Las Vegas regarding their experience with cloud migrations and the importance in provider relationships and flexibility when transitioning to the cloud.
Many organizations leap ‘into the cloud’ without a good understanding of their current infrastructure and their resource usages. Having a clear map of the common shared resources, such as maximum processing usage (CPU time), minimum and maximum memory consumption, and total storage can help guide an organization as they evaluate potential partners and pricing. That single step can help take the guess work out of a cloud implementation and help put a more quantified ROI on the migration.
It’s rarely necessary to migrate everything at once. Organizations can usually step into a cloud infrastructure by migrating components of their environment, such as part-time processing systems, to the cloud with little to no change in their current environment. Each piece can be migrated as necessary and connected via VPN or direct lines (depending on the provider and co-location with current hardware).
Finding a cloud provider that offers full resource flexibility (true scaling, not ‘packages’) is a huge benefit to organizations looking to right-size their environment. This also helps keep expenses, such as enterprise software licensing, to a minimum.
Example: an organization that pays for a software product license by core could find itself memory constrained in a ‘small’ server package. To upgrade to a ‘medium’ server package for increased memory would likely add additional cores, which would increase the licensing for the product on that server.
Along with flexibility, finding a cloud provider willing to partner with you-beyond the vanilla contract– is extremely important. This is the infrastructure and lifeblood for most organizations; having a provider that becomes part of the team can ease the migration growing pains and provide a learning (and potentially lucrative) experience to both parties.
Chris Gonyea, Director of Client Services, Dyn
Chris Gonyea is the Director of Client Services for Dyn. Dyn solutions are at the core of Internet Performance. Through traffic management, message management and performance assurance, Dyn is connecting people through the Internet and ensuring information gets where it needs to go, faster and more reliably than ever before. Incorporated in 2001, Dyn’s global presence services more than four million enterprise, small business and personal customers.
Cloud infrastructure, or its more trendy and simplified cousin ‘the cloud’, encompasses a technology spectrum of words and represents a proven business model. Its power is in its nebulous definition: IaaS (infrastructures sold as a service), subscription, scalable, rentable, easy-to-use, shared.
Suppose your company hosts its own website or service or even its own app and you’re now considering to transition to cloud because it’s either cheaper, easier to scale, more reliable, or you like the freedom and flexibility of simply buying more space with just a credit card or cutting back on expenses when you need to.
Now in the past your company had to make an investment to host it’s own site/service/app in the form of hardware and people to maintain that hardware. This can be expensive, costly to maintain, and difficult to setup correctly which is why many businesses are now choosing to start with the cloud. You’re concerned that the transition itself could not only be costly but also risky in that you could lose data or cause your website/service to go offline for an extended period of time. Our Director of Client Services Chris Gonyea addresses concerns like this everyday from our potential clients and you might actually be surprised by what he has to say.
The most common misconception about moving to the cloud is that it is an all or nothing proposition. That is certainly not the case. Very few companies today can truly say they are 100% in the cloud. Many are actually using a hybrid approach that gives them the flexibility of using the best the cloud has to offer while using their own infrastructure where it makes more sense.
The days of evaluating soley traditional solutions are over. When you are looking to replace or add new software or infrastructure, you want to look both traditional and cloud solutions and evaluate the following:
- What are the SLAs? Is it hosted in multiple datacenters for redudancy and disaster recovery?
- What is the flexibility of the solution? Does it solve today’s needs? Does it allow you to add new functionality as needed? Is the vendor improving the product? Do you ever have to worry about a end-of-life scenario?
- How do you extend the product? Is there APIs that are properly documented? Can you connect multiple products together?
- How does the solution scale as your company and customer base grows? Is the product able to handle unexpected or unusual high usage? A good hint of scalability is who else uses the product…if you see startups alongside Alexa 1,000 sites using a cloud product, that could be a very good indicator of what that product is capable of.
- What is the performance of a traditionally self hosted option vs. a cloud option?
- Where does the support burden fall? Do you need to add staff or are you able to leverage a vendor’s expertise and support team? Of course, there is the cost factor. In some instances the cloud might be cheaper, in some a traditional approach might be cheaper.
David Gibson,VP Marketing, Varonis
David Gibson is the VP Marketing at Varonis, a leading unstructured data management solution provider. Mr. Gibson is responsible for building brand awareness, aligning product functionality with market demand, and driving sales through marketing, education, as well as direct pre and post sales efforts. Since joining Varonis, Mr. Gibson has held positions as sales engineer, sales engineer manager, and director of technical marketing. Prior to Varonis, Mr. Gibson was a NY systems engineer for Tripwire, and worked as a network management and security engineer at International Integrated Solutions, ltd. Mr. Gibson has worked in the IT industry for over 15 years.
Data is an asset. Wherever an organization chooses to store its data, the organization must make sure it’s managed and protected adequately relative to its value. Just as you wouldn’t store your company’s valuable physical inventory in an unlocked garage with no one watching, you shouldn’t store your valuable data in any location that doesn’t have adequate controls. Organizations with adequate data protection know where sensitive data resides (and whether it’s cloud-eligible), they know who can access data, who is accessing data, which data is no longer needed, etc. Make sure that when you’re considering a move to the cloud that service providers offer these fundamental data protection and management controls in addition to reliability and (hopefully) cost savings.
Gabriel Mays, Founder, Just Add Content
Gabriel Mays is the founder of Just Add Content, a business website platform that features integration with business apps and cloud services to help small business do more.
Intuitively, it’s easy to believe that cloud services are less secure, particularly with the well-publicized hacking incidents and NSA issues in the news. These are rare cases, however. 99.9% of security issues with cloud services can be avoided by using a reputable company, choosing strong authentication/credentials, and keeping credentials secure.
It’s far more likely for an employee, cleaning person, maintenance personnel, or other party with access to your workspaces to walk off with a storage device, whether it’s a computer or a hard drive. Or what if the storage device fails? What if a fire destroys everything? Then what? Your data is gone. This doesn’t happen with cloud services.
Not only are cloud services more secure, but they can also be accessed from anywhere. This leads to increased productivity and less anxiety for employees, particularly those who travel.
The transition to cloud services takes time, particularly for those in low-tech industries with older employees who may not be as comfortable with computers. If you’re a business owner in this position it’s worth investing in training for your staff to build confidence in their ability to use these services. They should feel comfortable and know how things work to be most effective.
After employees feel comfortable and know the basics, focus on security. Teach them the importance of strong passwords and how to choose them. Teach them how to store passwords to keep them secure. If you have highly sensitive data, consider two-factor authentication. The measures you take are dependent upon how sensitive your data is. If you’re maintaining highly sensitive data (i.e. trade secrets, customer information, etc.) you should consult a reputable security expert.
Transitioning to the cloud can seem intimidating, but if you’re using Gmail, Yahoo! Mail or similar services, you’re already using the cloud!. It’s a major step transitioning your business, but it’s necessary because it’s more secure, increases productivity, and it’s becoming the new standard. With most new business services being web-based, many of them integrate with each other and for an even better experience.
The longer you wait, the harder it’ll get. Start with established, reputable services like Google Apps, Dropbox, FreshBooks, etc. for the best results
Robert Miggins, Senior Vice President of Business Development, PEER 1 Hosting
Robert Miggins is the senior vice president of business development for PEER 1 Hosting. He has worked for more than 10 years in IT infrastructure, with all aspects of the industry including sales, marketing, product development, and operations. Robert has been with PEER 1 for more than four years and is responsible for developing the company’s product roadmap, strategic partnerships, and customer loyalty initiatives. He also heads up PEER 1 Hosting’s programs targeting vertical markets, such as SaaS and hosting resellers.
Cutting through all of the hype around the cloud computing is challenging, and it seems like no day goes by without a new type of concern arising. When it comes time to consider transitioning to the cloud, the two main things that companies should consider is the level of choice and customization they will get from their provider. That’s why hybrid options should certainly be a part of the discussion.
Larger companies get excited about having their web and application layers in the cloud, but they should be a bit more cautious about virtualizing their databases. Inevitably, performance in the cloud will fluctuate, and with databases being so vital to businesses, the safer bet is to keep them on bare metal.
Joe Pickerill, Marketing Director and Founder, WaitHappy
Joe Pickerill is Marketing Director and Founder of WaitHappy. He has spent the last 15 years in Austin’s high-tech industry working for small start-ups and Global 100 companies alike.
While I’m far from an expert in cloud infrastructure, the beauty is that you don’t really have to be anymore. My tip is to find an experienced consultant to help you at important steps along the way.
Our company, WaitHappy is an early-stage start-up based in Austin, Texas. Our application helps restaurants manage their tables and wait lists. So, as we added more customers, we were seeing increased traffic during peak times during the weekends. We knew we had to move off of our dedicated server and into a more scalable and flexible, cloud-based environment before our customers began to experience performance problems.
After some starts and stops with a few Platform as a Service (PaaS) providers that seemed to be user-friendly on the surface, but had some downside on the deployment and performance fronts we decided to regroup.
We are blessed to have several high-quality (and connected) back-end and front-end developers in-house. However, none of them were true system administrators. So, we gathered all of our developers to make a list of all the good sysadmins we knew or had worked with in the past. We contacted those people to ask them if they knew of any consultants with experience in deploying applications to either Amazon or Rackspace.
After a few initial meetings, we found our guy. He determined that since our application has a pretty straightforward architecture and is built on a standard framework and database, we would be a good fit for AWS Elastic Beanstalk. This is an easier-to-use service from Amazon that gives you all of the benefits of a true cloud infrastructure, without having to be a full-time system administrator. It might not be a resolution for more complex environments, but it worked for us.
We’ve been able to rely on our consultant, as needed, to help us determine the proper setup and configuration, assist us when we hit any roadblocks and now he’s helping us to stress test our application and environment before we roll over to production.
There are a lot more user-friendly cloud infrastructure solutions out there and they are getting more functional and easier to manage and use. If you can find a good consultant to help you with selection, setup recommendations and to get your team up and running, you will pay a little up front for a long-term gain.
Ujjval Karihaloo, Chief Technology Officer, SimpleSignal
Ujjval Karihaloo is the Chief Technology Officer of SimpleSignal and has over 15 years of telecom experience working for various carriers and VoIP product companies. He is responsible for the overall company product roadmap at SimpleSignal, new product launches, existing infrastructure and vendor relations. With his leadership and depth of knowledge, Ujjval and his team have helped build a highly efficient, scalable and reliable technology infrastructure for SimpleSignal customers. Ujjval’s role was monumental in making SimpleSignal one of the first carriers to be included in the XConnect HD VoIP peering alliance. He has also led SimpleSignal’s surge in deploying game-changing hosted applications for our customers like SimpleSignal FMC, HD Audio/Video Conferencing, Call-recording-in-the-cloud and E-faxing among many others. Ujjval comes to SimpleSignal with experience in a variety of telecom fields, having worked in all aspects pertaining to a telco provider including Service Provider Network Design, VoIP Architecture and Development, Engineering Process Life Cycle and Network Operations.
Things to consider: Doing the classic buy vs. build analysis for Business Critical Applications identifying which ones makes sense to move to the cloud based on
- In house skill levels
- Short and long term cost considerations
- Licensing models
Migrations have to be carefully managed/planned to ensure that business continuity is maintained. So preferably, you should procure a Private Uplink (MPLS) to the cloud provider, ensure QOS for Cloud Communication Services and other latency sensitive services, and secure data while in transit as well as in storage.
Things to feel good about: a Cloud Model allows immense flexibility and scalability.
Michael Sterl, Executive Vice President and Part of the Founding Management Team, SimpleSignal
Michael Sterl is Executive Vice President and part of the founding management team of SimpleSignal where he is responsible for the sales organization including resellers and channel partners. Sterl has more than 10 years’ experience in the telecom industry, having previously served in both sales and operations at XO and Allegiance Telecom. Sterl’s creative and innovative approach to sales and marketing have served him well, as he is largely responsible for the growth and long term success of SimpleSignal’s partner program. He has excelled in his role of managing the sales team in the areas of go-to-market innovation, channel partner training, operations and customer satisfaction.
The idea is to have the customer understand that “cloud” or “hosted” is being used today for other service they may already be leveraging today, for example in:
- Online banking
- Personal email
If you trust the cloud with this info why not trust it for the business?
Hassan Bawab, Founder and CEO, Magic Logix
Hassan Bawab is the Founder and CEO of Magic Logix, an interactive digital marketing agency in Carrollton, TX. Magic Logix combines dynamic website development, professional website design, SEO and integrated online marketing to drive new leads with high conversion. He is committed to high standards in every aspect of his business and actively leads his team of professional developers, designers, and online marketers. Key to their success is Hassan¹s emphasis on clear, open communication among employees and with clients. Hassan believes that the best CEO is also the best listener.
Cloud Computing: Is It Right for Your Business? In response to an increasingly competitive digital marketplace, companies all over the world are moving their operations from local servers to the cloud. The ubiquitous access offered by cloud computing allows employees to access their files when and where they need, and lets businesses focus on what they do best, instead of devoting precious resources to IT maintenance.
But what about your business? Is making the transition to cloud computing right for you?
What is “the Cloud”? For those unfamiliar, cloud computing refers to the utilization of computing resources — whether hardware, software, or both — housed remotely and accessed by the user via a network (usually the internet).
The choice to transition to cloud computing brings with it a variety of advantages, including the predictability of a flat monthly payment, the elimination of regular IT maintenance tasks, the ability to scale your IT to the increasing needs of your business without having to buy more servers, all of which will most likely mean cost savings for you.
And that’s aside from the benefits of the vastly greater accessibility offered by cloud computing.
While there are certainly legitimate disadvantages to cloud computing — specifically the cumbersome task of initially transferring your data – two of the most often repeated disadvantages are really misconceptions, and don’t provide sufficient justification to disqualify cloud computing as an option for your company.
- The Cloud and Security – The first of these has to do with cloud storage and security. The conventional wisdom is that because you are surrendering your data to a third-party it is at greater risk for a security breach. In practice, the opposite is often true. No data is ever completely secure, but the reality is that companies specializing in cloud computing devote enormous amounts of resources to ensuring the security of your data. Their reputation depends upon it. Most small and medium-sized businesses — even those that house their applications locally — simply cannot devote the resources necessary to achieve a comparable level of security.
- The Bandwidth Issue – Another purported disadvantage of cloud computing that you may have heard is that your business’s bandwidth may not be capable of transferring your data quickly enough to make the cloud a viable option. While this is a legitimate concern for a few extremely data-intensive companies (like those that offer streaming video, or those with exceptionally high traffic), the vast majority of businesses need not be concerned with this.
Additionally, the high-bandwidth infrastructure continues to grow. Google’s new fiber-optic network, Google Fiber is being piloted in Kansas City and already has over a dozen agreements with surrounding suburban municipalities to implement the network in the next few years. So, even for data-intensive operations, bandwidth is a concern that will likely fall away within the coming years.
What About You? Whether or not migrating your data to the cloud is right for your business will ultimately depend on your specific needs.
Antonio Piraino, CTO of IT Monitoring Solution Provider, ScienceLogic
Antonio Piraino is CTO of IT monitoring solution provider ScienceLogic, and former Tier 1 Research analyst. As an expert on cloud computing, Antonio is a frequent speaker at key industry events including UP Cloud Computing, Hosting Con and will soon speak at Cloud Expo Asia.
Decide what business services you’re trying to improve or create, and who the intended users are first. Budget, internal IT assets, corporate governance and key performance needs are all considerations. Before moving applications to the cloud, an organization needs to catalogue its data center applications and build a service profile for each one to understand the components that make up that service and where the dependencies are. Treating an application as a service construct and not an independent network of siloed technologies is an important first step.”
Eelco van Beek, the CEO, Jitscale
Eelco van Beek is the CEO of Jitscale, an international IT management organization based in The Netherlands that specializes in designing, organizing, managing, and optimizing a wide range of business-critical IT platforms. Van Beek has extensive experience in software and infrastructure design, complex networking, development and infrastructure project management, scalability, cloud computing and security. He has degrees in Computer Science and Technical Business Management from Hogeschool van Utrecht in The Netherlands.
SMEs may realize they need to get on board with cloud computing, but they often have questions about the cloud and how they can benefit from using it. Since an organization’s application portfolio might contain tens, hundreds or even thousands of different applications, choosing a strategy for moving these into the cloud can be daunting. To make it easier, SMEs should consider the following series of questions that assess security and compliance issues and the technical and functional aspects of their business-critical applications.
Security & Compliance Assessment
Organizations are often subject to IT security policies and compliance requirements. Depending on the type of application and data, these policies might affect the ability to run the application on a shared infrastructure. These questions will help a company identify which applications and data sets to move to the cloud, and which ones to keep in-house.
- 1. Does your organization classify data and do these classifications prohibit the data to be placed on a shared or outsourced infrastructure?
- 2. Are there any regulatory or contractual obligations to store data in a specific jurisdiction?
- 3. What are your options if you need to retrieve the data from the cloud?
Technical & Functional Assessment
A typical SME will use a wide variety of applications. There are ERP systems, CRM, HR Services, Payroll, customer-facing web applications, internal corporate IT applications, etc. All these types of applications have technical characteristics making them more or less suitable for migration into the cloud. Use these questions to determine which applications can be moved into the cloud:
- 1. Which applications do or don’t have dependencies on other applications?
- 2. Do applications use any under-utilized assets, e.g. hardware that has a lot of unused capacity?
- 3. Are there any restrictive licenses for software used in your applications prohibiting your software from running in the cloud?
- 4. Which applications have an immediate business need to scale and are running out of capacity?
- 5. Which applications require specialized hardware to function?
- 6. Are there any applications that need to be rolled out on a global scale?
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