You must have heard the hype about cloud computing, everyone’s talking about it, and you may even be using it without realising it, but what is it exactly, and what potential benefits does it offer for your organisation?
Well, it’s been around in some way, shape or form for years. Facebook and Gmail are just a couple of the applications of the technology that many of us use daily to store comments, photos, videos and other content in the “cloud,” but there are many other applications.
Cloud computing has been associated with many things and initially just meant anything to do with the internet and could have covered areas such as remote access, storage and hosting servers offsite. Today when we talk about cloud computing we tend to mean the ability to access all your email, calendar, word processing, databases, invoicing, intranet, etc. from any location or device, without owning the server or networking infrastructure, and only paying for the software licences you use on a monthly basis.
It all sounds very attractive: consolidate your IT infrastructure, reduce your IT energy and capital costs, and get ‘anywhere’ access to documents and applications. For some organisations it will be, but there are also a number of issues that should be looked at first.
Will your industry specific applications work under a cloud computing infrastructure?
How much are the migration costs?
What size of internet pipe/how much bandwidth do you need for it to run quickly when all your 50 staff are accessing it and how much will it cost?
Can your internet provider ensure no single point of failure? What’s the point of having all your applications and data in the cloud if your ISP has a failure and no one can access them?
Where is the data stored? i.e. which country? Just because you deal with a UK company does not mean your data is stored in the UK. Different countries have different requirements and controls placed on access. If it’s in a non EU country then your data is not covered by the Data Protection Act.
How secure is it? Are you comfortable giving your customer data to someone else? If its Google are you aware that they “mine” your data as it’s extremely valuable to advertisers, and as a result, the reason they can offer free or low cost cloud services. Microsoft’s cloud terms & conditions state that they can store your data anywhere in the world, so you may not be covered by the Data Protection Act.
Who has access to it? What happens if there is a security breach? What SLA (service level agreement) do you have e.g. what contracted level of guaranteed service do you have?
What happens to your data should your cloud provider go out of business?
Moving everything to the cloud might be the way ahead; or your existing infrastructure may still offer savings when compared to moving to the cloud; or possibly a combination of both may be optimal. It’s a complicated area and needs to be closely examined before you can make a qualified decision. Astute IT can help you get to the stage where you are ready to make it and help you take it further.