Perspective from those early to “Cloud Computing”

As part of the evolution, or sometimes referred to as the revolution, that takes place in the technology industry, “the field of dreams” we thought it opportune to identify some of the “learnings” and experiences had by those corporations who have shifted to “cloud computing” early. 

 In our previous issues on “cloud computing” we defined it and discussed both the implications and the opportunities for your business.  Today we want to move onto the impact of “cloud computing” environment in the following areas: downtime; security; your client and your compliance; managing costs; and IT Resourcing.

Over time large corporations have shifted their IT infrastructure to third parties, as part of their overall strategy to outsource functions that are not “core” to their business.  This has provided opportunities for small to medium enterprises in North America and around the globe. For larger corporations migration to “cloud computing” has lead to the following:

  1. Provisioning cycle time: access to new servers and software is reduced from weeks to minutes;
  2. The cost of hardware, software and support has been lowered; and
  3. Improved the ability of corporations to collaborate around product development.  Thereby improving innovation, responsiveness and overall competitiveness of their business.

 In the small to medium enterprise market leveraging “cloud computing” has allowed them to reduce CAPEX associated with establishing “in house” storage and data management capabilities through locally installed servers and system racking.  The elimination of this need has reduced “up front” investments, and has moved these enterprises to variable costs, in order to support scalability and growth. 

This direction has allowed businesses in this market to focus on their “core” offering and to invest in those parts of their business that will support future growth and prosperity. From here we have taken the opportunity to examine the points of key learning so far.

What about downtime?

 Experience has shown that downtime is greatly reduced in a “cloud” environment.  The flexibility to source more space in the “cloud” can be done quickly and effectively.  Thereby overcoming the time involved in sourcing new hardware, software and integrating this into your business through scheduled outages.  In dealing with your “Cloud Computing Provider” you need to understand how this will be managed.

What about security?

 The expectation is that “Cloud Computing Providers” will manage the security of your environment.  This is not true you need to find out what they will support and what will be your responsibility here for your business. This is good discussion point when you meet and you review your Cloud Computing Providers SLA.

 Your client your compliance

Understanding your businesses regulatory environment and the expectations of your clients is very important here.  You need to confirm where the data centers are based for your proposed “Cloud Computing Providers” and whether there is a regulatory requirements, industry practice and/or client expectation as to where your business can store, retrieve and update data.

 How about managing costs?

This can then become a “double edged” sword for your business.  The ability to mobilize your business quickly in the “cloud” by increasing server capacity, increasing or decreasing seats, and upgrading software across the business is a great advantage.  However, the warning is that the savings can decline as bandwidth starts to increase.  So you need to get clarification from your prospective “Cloud Computing Provider” as to how the bandwidth is priced, measured and monitored.

IT Resourcing

With the removal of hardware and software upgrades IT Resources typically shift their focus to those technology changes that improve client retention, productivity and job satisfaction of your staff.  IT Resources become more strategic and less tactical in supporting your businesses needs.