Selecting the Right Cloud Solution for Your Company
Guest author: Kerry Doyle
Cloud features, such as scalability and on-demand resource allocation, are fundamental to why SMBs and large enterprises are incorporating the cloud into their businesses. According to GSMA, the global mobile industry trade group, the total number of mobile connect devices will double from six billion in 2012 to 12 billion by 2020.
For field service operations that employ a mobile workforce, such figures indicate how extensive the reliance on cloud services will be in the near future. But organizations need to consider which option makes the most sense: the relatively open, unsecured, multi-tenant cloud? A private cloud that depends on in-house IT expertise? Or a combination of both, the hybrid cloud?
In terms of a public cloud, it’s true that one rarely hears about failed implementations. It’s also true that a percentage of companies would never trust control of their operations to a third party provider. When it comes to field service, what would happen if the provider network went down and data access for technicians wasn’t possible?
Such a scenario illustrates the reasons why it’s useful to consider private cloud implementation. However, certain IT capabilities are essential. A thorough understanding of the cloud requires technical knowledge spanning several areas:
- Networking – the ability to rework entire networks on the fly, as needed.
- Virtualization – familiarity with virtual machines (VMs) and virtual storage is important
- Operating Systems – Windows and Linux/certifications with vendors, including MS, VMware, and RedHat
- Application Development – abilities in languages, such as XML, Ruby, Pearl and Java, etc.
The term “private cloud” is used to describe a cloud infrastructure that exists within your own servers. When considering which cloud version to adopt, you should take a careful look at all the laws and regulations that impact your industry. Then, weigh the costs, scalability, and control issues involved. In terms of a private cloud, some of the benefits include:
Security – A private cloud lets you maintain complete control over who sees your data because, unlike a public cloud, no one else has access but you. Therefore, privacy can be kept at the highest levels. Private cloud also shouldn’t change your network security approach. Whether physical servers or virtual, you’ll maintain the same levels of firewall protection and server isolation. And with absolute clarity of ownership, you’ll know exactly who is granted physical access. For field service operations, transparency like this is critical.
Customization – In the case of private cloud hardware, you can customize network and storage infrastructure according to field service needs and regulation/compliance standards. Since customized and Web-enabled applications for field service are widespread, a private cloud infrastructure offers the ability to be designed according to your operational needs.
Speed – For field service operations that rely on the fast transfer of large volumes of data, using a private cloud offers higher data transfer speeds. Since private cloud deployment occurs inside the firewall of an organization’s intranet, the transfer rates are significantly better compared to a public cloud. That’s because slower speeds occur when data is transferred over the open Internet. For example, the speed difference in downloading data from a remote website versus an intranet site is significant. When using a private cloud, those speed issues are solved.
These represent some of the areas that companies need to think about when it comes to private cloud deployment. Organizations should also consider how a private cloud will enhance field technician collaboration and decision making. Fast access to data from the field means that more control is in the hands of technicians. Yet with the increased versatility, new questions arise. Although worker efficiency, scalability and lower costs can be achieved with a private cloud, it requires thorough planning, design and IT involvement.