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Everything You Need to Know About Cloud Computing


Is it really a good idea to place your valuable and sensitive corporate data in the cloud?  As business leaders search for ways to reduce costs and improve their ability to remain flexible and agile in an ever-changing environment, more and more are looking at cloud computing as an innovative IT management solution.

What is cloud computing and is it the best solution for your company?  Read on to learn more about cloud computing and the benefits moving to the cloud can provide your business.

What is cloud computing?

Cloud computing is the utilization of computing power and resources on demand via an Internet connection, as opposed to hosting and operating computing resources within your company.  Cloud computing offers utility pricing, or a “pay as you use” pricing structure, eliminating the capital or operating expenses a company would absorb if purchasing and maintaining its own IT resources.  When a company utilizes a cloud computing solution, computing resources are typically managed by a third party service provider that can quickly adjust capacity to address computing needs and demands.

Why should small business owners consider implementing a cloud computing solution today? How will it cut costs or improve productivity?

Cloud computing can drastically reduce capital expenses devoted to an IT infrastructure (hardware, servers, etc.) as well as substantially minimizing operating expenses (fewer IT resources are required).  Outsourced cloud computing solutions are dynamic, scalable and work seamlessly.  Cloud computing solutions also achieve a better response time in most cases than standard server hardware.

Partnering with a cloud computing service provider helps to minimize costs associated with employing internal IT personnel and resources.  The cloud computing service provider provides all of the resources required – including hardware, power, and bandwidth — and typically also provides the majority of the IT support.  In an ideal situation, a cloud computing solution provider will implement a managed solution by which they provide all server patching, server hardening, monitoring and upgrades.

Additionally, cloud computing demonstrates lower environmental impact through enhanced efficiencies.

How does a small business begin planning a transition from traditional systems to cloud computing?

It is best to start small.  Most clients begin with virtualizing a server.  Once comfortable with that, they can then move onto backup and storage for disaster recovery. Non-mission critical applications, such as email, should be moved to the cloud first.  With such great offerings and value, Microsoft Hosted Exchange and Google Apps make a great test case for moving into the cloud at a very low cost.

Contact a trusted advisor, a company that is an expert in cloud computing services, to provide education, guidance and migration assistance.  Companies who’ve made the mistake of jumping into the cloud without a strategy for governance and security can lose control of their IT infrastructure.  A cloud computing expert will create and implement a governance and security strategy that addresses the specific needs of your company’s valuable resources.

How does cloud computing change the role of the typical IT department?

After deploying a cloud computing solution, internal IT departments will be able to focus on the core business aspects of IT– developing and supporting mission critical applications for customers instead of worrying about server patching, reboots, and maintenance.  Cloud service providers can manage day-to-day IT issues while the company’s IT department can focus on what makes the company revenue, innovating and planning for the future.

What types of cloud computing services are available today?

There are three types of cloud computing services available to businesses today.  These are:

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

With this solution, the hardware and infrastructure (data center, power and communications) are all provided for you.  You do not need to provide any servers, hardware, or communications.  You can move your existing infrastructure into the cloud.  Sometimes referred to as hardware as a service, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offers compute power, storage, and networking infrastructure (such as firewalls and load balancers) as a service via the public internet.  An example of this is Amazon Web Services.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

This adds a layer to Infrastructure as a Service.  Platform as a Service (PaaS) also offers compute power, storage, and networking infrastructure as a service via the public internet. However, PaaS environments also offer a runtime environment for compiled application code. It includes the software, such as Microsoft SQL Server, Windows Server, etc.  It provides the platform for you to build on, already configured with the required software, foundation, etc.  Microsoft Azure is an example of PaaS.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Software as a Service (Saas) is on-demand software, such as salesforce.com.  With SaaS an entire finished application can be available on-demand from some SaaS vendors. The application exists in the cloud (not in an on-premise datacenter) and can be consumed from any browser via the Internet.

Where will cloud computing be in five years? 10 years?

Most experts believe that the majority of IT will be virtualized in the next 10 years– virtual servers, hosted applications, virtual desktops.  Today, many users are storing their documents and files in the cloud with access from anywhere.  The desktop is becoming less relevant with virtual desktops, hosted software and virtual storage.  Just as software has essentially displaced hardware in the communications space, the cloud will displace software, and it will simply be standard environment for doing these things.

In order for this to take place, new standards and tools will need to be introduced to the marketplace.  If cloud computing is to take “the next step,” the industry will have to make it easier to integrate, move data from one provider to another and enable standards. All this is going to drive increasing momentum for industry standards.  For cloud computing to continue to gain traction beyond the SMB space, vendors must provide enterprise IT managers with capability for monitoring SLAs, managing change control, securing transactions and orchestrating business processes. Additionally, automation will become more prevalent as standards are more widely accepted and there will be a move toward data center consolidation.

 

 

 

 

About LinkSource Technologies

Founded in 1998 and based in California and Pennsylvania, LinkSource is an information technology company with unmatched support, services and tools—from voice, data and mobility, to cloud computing. LinkSource delivers forward-thinking technology, superior customer support, a solid process model and ROI for customers. The LinkSource team represents some of the most recognized brands in the world—from finance and healthcare to retail and legal. LinkSource is proud to have the capabilities to provide global solutions for enterprise and multi-location companies. The collaborative team supports clients in making informed decisions while optimizing investment and business performance. For information on LinkSource Technologies, visit www.linksource.com, call 855.LINKSOURCE.

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3 comments
  1. Jamie Crawshaw

    June 6, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Very informative post! The cloud computing movement is really putting SMBs on the forefront of technology, as a smaller infrastructure is a simple and seamless move to the cloud. 

    Have you considered desktops in the cloud for your SMB? They are the next wave in cloud IT solutions for their security, scalability, and cost effectiveness. I would recommend giving Leostream Desktops (leostreamdesktops.com) a try. I believe they are the best “bang for your buck” in the cloud desktops market. 

    Reply
  2. Bob Franz

    June 7, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    What are the implications to a companies security.  Does the data that is being provided to these web applications gets stored in an encrypted format which only my company can use to view the information or does teh cloud service company have full access to my data?

    Reply
  3. Eric Layland

    June 8, 2012 at 12:53 am

    A major consideration for SMB’s is distribution and ownership of sensitive data. A number of cloud-based storage (virtual drives) have had issues with security breaches.  The other issue is data ownership. Have you read and understand all the legalese buried in the service agreements? When content is uploaded to social media channels the often then owns a copy of your digital data (e.g. Facebook). An option is to provide secure access to company owned and managed data in a manner that does not contribute to data proliferation. Our company uses a tool called Tappin (www.tappin.com). Permissions are managed (easily) by the company and users can access what they’re allowed to from any device. Tappin is very reasonably priced (about $20/user/yr). Worth checking out if you’re business is headed for the cloud.

    Reply

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