First of all we should address “the cloud”, we know the term has been used in various articles and reports for years, but really what does it all mean?
In short a cloud service is a software service or technology resource which is provided over the internet. Main difference being, that it’s not a dedicated resource located at your premises, but a system or platform hosted remotely and you access it over the internet.
In practise the cloud model makes a lot of sense, and the update of cloud services is now at an unprecedented rate. Business are quickly converting their traditional technology infrastructure services from on premise to cloud services.
Here are some of the main reasons or benefits:
- Being a managed service, everything is done for you:
as a client you no longer have to worry about infrastructure, availability, uptime, maintenance, monitoring. It’s all done for you by the cloud service provider
System backups can be a complex and a bit of a ‘hit and miss’ exercise. Most companies were never too sure how well they are protected in case of total system failure or crash. Cloud services usually have not only redundancy built in, but automated backups are at the core of their architecture.
- System maintenance and upgrades.
The business model of cloud services is subscription based, this frees up companies from having to worry about licensing, software obsolesce, maintenance and software upgrades.
- New hardware infrastructure.
Most organisations run services on dated or even obsolete servers, the main reason being cost. With cloud services you are taking advantage of the latest hardware infrastructure service delivery models over the internet without having to make a large investment.
- Latest operating systems
Since most cloud services are new, they are built on the latest operating systems and software architectures, making them more compatible with existing systems, easier to transition and more reliable and responsive.
- Service Level Agreements
A reputable cloud service provider will provide your business with a service level agreement, which guarantees in writing the performance and availability of the services you are buying. This is often impossible to get in-house
- Service availability.
Cloud services are built to be accessible over the internet from any location, simply and securely. Service mobility is at the core of cloud services without compromising security or being limited to specific device types in most cases.
- OPEX charge model
most cloud services are provided at a fixed OPEX model, typically per user or per device or per service. This makes cost accounting and periodical cost control possible. You will no longer have to budget for unknown costs, upgrades, system failure costs etc.
So are the next question most business ask us, is.. how can I take advantage of these services?
Some of the tips we share with our clients
- Internet readiness
Ensure you have enough internet capacity (speed), reliability and allowance from your current provider. Or consider an upgrade to the internet. Since cloud service rely completely on your connectivity to the service provider this is by far the most important infrastructure decision a business needs to make. The good news is that Internet connectivity is getting most cost effective, more reliable and much faster with often unlimited plans.
- Start small and plan to grow
Rather than trying to change everything at once, pick a couple of services which can easily be moved to the cloud, such as email, or one or two applications or services you currently use. Once those are working perfectly and you are comfortable with the change, make plans for further transition
- Trust the service provider and the technology
when you in practise outsource part of your service infrastructure and technology to a cloud provider, one of the biggest hurdles is a mental change hurdle. In effect you must unlearn what you have had to learn about provisioning, capacity planning, and scalability of services. You must learn to trust that the technology the service provider will be able to cater for your requirements including systems security.
- Speed of delivery
Cloud services are built for mass access and rapid deployment is at their core. You will enjoy much faster and accurate service delivery
On a last note, despite the obvious advantages, any technology and shift in service provision has some disadvantages. Here are some of the most talked about and how to mitigate those
- Technical issues outside of your control
like any service relying on technology cloud service providers can suffer from glitches and downtime.
- The good news is that they are typically better equipped to quickly handle such issues than most organisations; as their business and viability depends on them being able to provide a service level.
- Ask your service provider to provide uptime statistics and monthly service reports including instances and faults.
One of the biggest hurdles in the initial acceptance of cloud services is the perception of their security. Before companies surrender their valuable information and data, they must be sure this information is protected.