Brian King| Cloudtweaks
The cloud, the trend that appears to be steaming on ahead as the likes of Salesforce, Amazon’s Web Services and Workday continue to gain market value. Utilising cloud services for business has allowed for companies to scale, drive IT costs down and become a more agile, streamlined business.
There are a few steps that should be taken by any company before they decide to make the switch across the cloud, and these are even steps that companies utilising the cloud should make sure they’re aware of to keep cloud usage both in check and running smoothly.
The pace of cloud computing shows no sign of letting up with likes of Salesforce, Amazon’s Web Services and Workday expanding rapidly and gaining market value.
Utilising cloud services allows companies to scale, drive IT costs down and become more agile. However to keep cloud usage in check and systems running smoothly there are a number of factors that should be considered:
1) Assess what business infrastructure can be outsourced.
Before considering the cloud, check you’re sure what business infrastructure, processes and systems you’re willing to outsource. Whether its email exchange or data storage, having an on premise solution gives you direct control so in the event of downtime you are able to act.
2) Calculate the savings.
When it comes to justifying the cost of implementing cloud services it’s crucial to be sure you’re going to make a saving. Replacing and maintaining hardware can be a costly expenditure and the cloud can reduce a large amount of hardware costs, however Cloud based services need licences and the cost of multiple licences can quickly mount up
3) Be aware of compliance issues.
When data is moved between an internal network and cloud storage it is important to know how the data is going to be stored and secured. Laws such as the UK’s Data Protection Act protects personal information from misuse while the US has Sarbanes-Oxley which all publicly traded companies must comply with , covering all financial systems and forcing SSL encryption policies upon finance departments.
4) Understand the differences between the private, public and hybrid cloud.
There are a few key distinctions on the differences between differing cloud types. A public cloud is just that, public, SaaS providers utilise a public cloud to offer their services. A private cloud is hosted internally to employees and gives a high level of security. A hybrid cloud allows for the most effective deployment, such as a business using public cloud computing resources to scale quicker.
5) Get an SLA with your cloud provider.
Downtime affects everyone but having a service level agreement with a cloud hosting company can make sure that if downtime does happen, your business is up and running as quickly as possible. Applications that are migrated onto the cloud are expected to perform at the same level as dedicated hardware, if not perform better, so an SLA is key to keeping performance maximised.
6) Create Cloud policies.
Policies for how the cloud should be used within a company are important to make resources are used correctly, whether it is data storage, file or shared web services.
7) Be aware of all the security implications.
The cloud has security implications that need to be addressed. Endpoint security can be put in place that monitors information as it travels outside of an organisation to reduce the risk of data leakage. Heavy fines can be levied against data leaks so it’s important to take the appropriate measures to reduce the risk.
8) Monitor usage of the cloud and the cloud itself.
Depending what your main use of the cloud is, whether it’s public or private, it’s important to monitor both the status of the implementation as well as monitoring the usage that it is experiencing. Monitoring can give you greater insight into what is happening on the network and allows you to foresee any future issues or trends, such as downtime or server latency.
9) Manage users and manage licenses.
The cloud brings with it a whole host of issues surrounding users, from multiple logins for several different SaaS platforms to individual licensing management. Making sure that licenses are used effectively across teams is an important step to making the most effective use of the cloud. Management tools that allow for single sign on are a worthy investment but come with additional risks that should be taken into consideration.
10) Keep up-to-date with changes and improvements from providers.
SaaS providers are now in a race to the top, functionality that used to be done through a physical update can now be launched across the network giving the user the latest and greatest functionality immediately. Keeping up with these changes can make sure you’re using your cloud based applications to the best of their ability.
While there is no silver bullet to make the most from the cloud, these are some of the ways you can make it easier during implementation, deployment and usage for your business.