More and more small businesses are taking the plunge and investing in the increasingly popular phenomenon of cloud computing. But while some companies show an understandable reticence to dive in at the deep end with the cloud, others decide that it is something they need to be on board with before fully understanding the best way to implement within their particular niche.
The cloud can benefit almost any business, but it is always essential to utilise the technology in the correct fashion. The best way to put the clout to use is often a more complicated question than deciding to use it in the first place. For starters, there are three totally separate forms of cloud architecture available – Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). Just deciding which one of these would best suit your individual company can be a difficult decision in itself for the uninitiated.
So the first thing to establish before even signing up for a cloud computing service is which one of the three competing platforms will be best suited to your company. In order to make this decision, it is of course necessary to understand what the three platforms represent and offer:
Software-as-a-Service – this particular class setup entails the service provider offering software to users from a remote site. The service provider is responsible for maintenance tasks such as updating software and maintaining server provision.
Platform-as-a-Service – in this model, the service provider also makes available additional parts of the software ‘stack’.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service – this platform essentially involves the provider offering both hardware and software on a paper use basis.
In order to take advantage of cloud competing, businesses must consider the individual parameters of the three platforms as well as what specifically they intend to get out of their setup. Thus, here are several areas of consideration for businesses looking to implement cloud computing for the first time.
Not all software and hardware stations are currently ideal candidates to be moved to the cloud. Beginning your cloud operation by moving low-cost, back office applications is a sensible move as it will enable you to test the system before uploading more demanding programs.
There are many different facets to consider with relation to cloud providers. In order to select the correct one for your particular company, it may be necessary to undergo a cost-benefit analysis. The best provider in technical terms for your company may not be ideal in terms of pricing structure. And it’s essential for you to establish that the provider you plump for offers all the functionality that your company requires.
In accordance with the previous point, cloud providers have all manner of different fees and fee structures. Before signing up to anything ensure that you know exactly what you’re going to be paying, and that it precisely suits your needs and budget.
Some businesses tackle the cloud computing issue by setting up committees within their companies to help with the evaluation of products and the ongoing implementation of the cloud. Not only does this help draw upon valuable knowledge from within your company, but it also helps democratise the process of purchasing contributing.
The most important documents that you will receive from your cloud computing provider is the service level agreement. The service level agreement identifies the precise capabilities that the service provider will offer. This will have a massive impacts on the way that the cloud operates within your business. It may also influence the existing agreements that your company has already entered into with other hardware and software vendors.
It is extremely important to be intimately abreast of all the details in this document, as your cloud computing provider is not only bound by these terms and conditions, but also has no obligation to provide services outside of the remix of the service level agreement.
One of the key selling points of cloud computing is that it can make network security considerably tighter. However, with a relatively embryonic technologies such as the cloud there can still be oversights with regard to security, and not all providers have established the same level of credibility and customer acclaim. It is important to establish where your data will be stored, who at the service provider might have access to it, what layers of security are in place, and your remote connection will be protected.
Another important advantage of cloud competing is its ability to make disaster recovery and business continuity more intuitive and holistic. However, if your provider doesn’t prioritise this element of the cloud their disadvantage is essentially moribund. Make 100% sure that you establish a provider’s policy towards business continuity before signing up with them.
Fast and redundant connections are obviously critical for a successful cloud deployment, so ensure that you consider this element carefully and consider it within your cost-benefit analysis of each provider.
Before signing any contract present them to your company solicitor in order for them to rubber-stamp your decision. This may seem excessive, but data and information can be a company’s most important asset and you are interesting you’re clad competing provider with this incredibly vital resource. Better to be safe than sorry.