Contributed by Praveen Manohar, Head Geek at SolarWinds
These days, “Cloud Computing” or “The Cloud” is a core focus for many companies, but especially for small and medium organizations. The cloud model works well for organizations with low investment budgets by cutting down capital investments on infrastructure and data storage. Putting infrastructure and data storage in the cloud, gives organizations the flexibility to scale-up or downsize as required.
Cloud service vendors provide organizations with options to choose from based on subscription and per user basis. Moreover, high availability, disaster recovery and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) offered by Cloud service vendors are unmatched when compared to being maintained in-house.
For those who believe that traditional IT is over and Cloud is the future, there are a few things to be considered before you decide on “The Cloud” for your infrastructure and data storage. Let’s take a look at the factors that should influence your decision.
Data Security: This is the most important aspect to be thought of as data is the backbone for business operations in any organization. Data can be classified into two groups: 1) highly confidential and 2) remaining data. Even though cloud vendors promise high data security, it is always recommended to maintain the confidential data in-house. The reason for this is that you never know when, where and how this data is stored and backed up! The remaining data, the data which is not confidential, can be stored in the cloud as you would definitely have backup and restore options in the event of a data loss situation.
Compliance: Compliance can be of any category viz. security, backup, vendor support and so on. To maintain compliance, ensure that proper incident management capabilities are available. In case a regular backup fails or if the datacenter (where your data is backed up) crashes, make sure not only the vendor but you are also notified about the incident. Also, make sure that the vendor updates you on the status of the issue, and once fixed that you are informed of the actual cause of the incident. This helps you understand the vendor’s operational transparency.
Performance: Performance is a factor that no organization would want to compromise on. Before moving the infrastructure or data storage to the cloud, during the evaluation it is important to check if applications, websites or infrastructure performance in the cloud meets your requirements. Finalize on cloud services for the production environment only if you are satisfied with the results.
Reliability & Availability: These are vital factors that cannot be overlooked when moving your organization’s infrastructure and data storage to the cloud. Even though service vendors promise 99.99% uptime, you should double check by evaluation, or by going through customer testimonials, reviews, and consult websites like Cloud Reviews and Top 10 Cloud Storage.
Data Location & Control: Existence of data in the cloud impacts security. The security in non-cloud infrastructure is network based i.e., an external firewall with ACLs is helpful. But, when it comes to a cloud infrastructure, a firewall doesn’t help as the data can be accessed locally. In the cloud, data may be stored at multiple locations, not just internally (within a datacenter) but at different geographical locations too.
Some security options that can be used with cloud infrastructures are: get clear knowledge on data storage locations, details of authorized persons to access the datacenter (physical access), how data is backed up and where does the backup reside. Knowing this information helps you setup monitoring solutions like surveillance cameras, access through card swipe and data traffic analysis both in and out of the datacenter.
Service Level Agreement (SLA): Ensure that SLAs promised by the vendor match those of your organization. Issues can occur even in the cloud, but what matters is the vendor’s response to issues and if SLAs are met. Check with vendors for procedures that they follow in case of an issue; this gives you an idea of the vendor’s issue solving strategy. Also, check for benefits like cashback or subscription waiver if SLAs are not met.
Once these aspects are considered and mitigated, you should be ready to move your organization’s operations to the cloud. After migration, rather than spending time and money building and maintaining infrastructure, you only need to worry about application development, marketing and support of your core business. Last, but not least, keep in mind that a migration to the cloud will consume more external bandwidth than otherwise, and you will want to be prepared for it.
This is a sponsored post in conjunction with SolarWinds