Tweaking the Cloud
For both business and personal use, the cloud is one of today’s dominant technologies, though just a few years ago many of us would have been dismissive of it, if not completely unaware. Most of us use a variety of cloud storage applications such as Google Docs, Dropbox, and OneDrive that have very quickly and inconspicuously altered our lives; remote working is no longer a copy-and-carry bother, accessing personal documents can be done from any location, uploading files takes a moment and doesn’t require any additional hardware. But the benefits to our personal lives are just a drop in the ocean of advantages the cloud provides businesses; is it any wonder that CompTIA reports the public cloud service market will reach $204 billion in global revenue by the end of this year? One particular advantage of the cloud is that it’s available to absolutely everyone and as such small- and medium-sized organizations have access to the same tools that formerly have been exclusive to large corporations with their hefty budgets and extensive infrastructures.
Exploiting the Cloud Optimally
According to CompTIA’s Trends in Cloud Computing over 90% of surveyed companies state they use one or another form of cloud computing; regrettably, most of them are still using it for non-critical functions instead of full production stage. Says Seth Robinson, senior director, technology analysis, CompTIA. “The reality is that the cloud market is undergoing refinement as users gain greater appreciation and understanding of what cloud computing entails.”
For best results, organizations are using the cloud to reduce both hardware and support needs, thus reducing energy consumption as well as shrinking CapEx costs. Switching to the cloud can take the strain off in-house infrastructure maintenance and development, particularly in smaller companies that don’t have the funds for a department dedicated solely to IT upkeep. Furthermore, as the cloud is reducing a company’s private infrastructure, it is, in fact, expanding its network and increasing accessibility, strengthening data efficiency and utilization. And let’s not forget the cost efficiencies of cloud computing; small and medium businesses optimally employing the cloud are reporting cost efficiencies of up to 40 times that of those running their own IT systems.
Of course, many companies using cloud solutions are still in the early stages. Says Robinson, “… A significant number of businesses are still learning about cloud concepts and performing experiments, pilots, and initial migrations.” If you’re not at least tweaking your organization’s cloud usage for prime performance, you’re way behind the curve.
Pitfalls to Avoid
Don’t let cloud concerns dampen your enthusiasm, but optimal cloud usage means avoiding some of the pitfalls and maintaining control. Currently, security and data privacy concerns are high on the list of public cloud fears along with a significant number of organizations reporting loss of visibility and control after cloud adoption. Notably, the highest difficulty reported is transition with organizations struggling to shift critical apps to the cloud.
These concerns, however, shouldn’t halt the progression of cloud adoption; according to Concept Technology Inc., following a few essential steps helps overcome such worries:
- Select trustworthy and competent service providers and vendors. Ensure data centers are secure, crucial SLAs are in place, and provider services are high quality.
- Plan your cloud. Just because the cloud can improve business operations, doesn’t mean it will without a good strategy. Ensure that you’re implementing cloud tools in the right areas to improve productivity and benefit employees.
- Test control, security, and reliability. It’s always easier to simply believe that the services you’re paying for are complete; don’t foolishly bury your head in the sand but instead, put in the effort to ensure access is adequately controlled, data security policies are in place, and system violations can be detected and appropriately countered.
- An always-up infrastructure is key to a thriving business. Ensure that your providers offer the necessary support to handle maintenance and failures without downtime.
- Plan for recovery and backup. Cloud backup options make it easier than ever to prepare for disaster; ensure backup of on-site facilities is covered but be sure also to check that service providers have suitable backup facilities protecting your off-site data and services.
- Finally, it’s important to have an out. Cloud services are advancing so rapidly that it would be a mistake to lock yourself into a contract with a provider that isn’t keeping up with the industry. Today most vendors offer high-value services without restrictive contracts.
Any further tips or insights to offer around optimum cloud tweaks? Be sure to let us know.
By Jennifer Klostermann