Thanks to the fact that it’s such a broad topic with far-reaching implications, there’s still a lot of mystery surrounding cloud computing – particularly as it relates to its impact on enterprises around the world. All of this is compounded by the fact that the cloud is still relatively young (at least in IT terms), and many organizations are dipping their toes in the proverbial water for the first time.
But despite the fact that the technology itself is inherently sophisticated, the concept at the heart of the cloud is actually quite straightforward. In general, there are four key cloud-based uses that you’ll want to be aware of so that you can better determine how they fit into your own organization. There are also a few questions you’ll need to get answers to before you select a cloud service provider to partner with.
The Finer Points of Cloud Storage
Cloud storage is likely the cloud implementation that most people are already familiar with, as it’s very commonplace in our personal lives via services like Dropbox or Apple’s own iCloud. As the term suggests, this involves taking files that would normally be stored locally on a hard drive and placing them on an Internet-connected server instead.
The major benefit of cloud storage is that you can access those files from literally any device with an active Internet connection, anywhere on Earth. It’s a perfect way for companies to make sure that all of their employees have immediate access to critical data while facilitating efficient collaboration irrespective of geographic proximity. Everyone always has the most recently updated version of the file, so even remote collaboration becomes seamless and more productive than ever before.
An Overview of Cloud Backups
Cloud backups are very similar in concept to cloud storage, only in a much larger way. Instead of taking individual files and putting them on a server, you’re essentially doing the same thing with your entire computer infrastructure. This includes not only files but also settings and, in many cases, your operating system. It’s a much more broadly executed approach to cloud-based storage and it’s one that many businesses rely on daily.
Savvy businesses leverage cloud-based back up strategies to create better, more informed disaster recovery and business continuity plans with defined RPO/RTO metrics which align with their business and regulatory requirements. The problem with storing these backups on a local hard drive, for example, is that the drive itself can get lost, stolen or fail – taking those backups with it. With cloud backups, these aren’t things you have to worry about any longer. Even if your business, unfortunately, burns to the ground, your cloud-stored data will remain intact and available. With a bit of effort, you can pick up where you left off and be back in business in a short amount of time.
The Power of Cloud-Based Software
Unlike software that was historically designed to be installed locally on a hard drive, cloud-based software delivers access to apps via an active network (internet or dedicated) connection. Cloud based software comes in two flavors, traditional, where the application is hosted and deployed by a cloud service provider responsible for procuring and managing the hardware and operational software, ie, the operating system, virtual layer and network connections and software as a service “SaaS” where the application is subscription based and available via network connection.
The major benefit of these delivery platforms is that you can have access to essential business software from practically anywhere – even on a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet. Under the old method of software distribution, you needed to physically install a program on every device you planned on using it with. This also meant that you had to manually update that software on each of these machines on a regular basis.
With cloud-based software, on the other hand, you can access that software whenever and wherever you’d like while someone else incurs the costs of hardware procurement and management as well as the management and maintenance of the infrastructure necessary to make the applications available via a network connection. Software version control is uniform across the enterprise because the applications are centrally managed and, in the SaaS model, the most recent version of the program is always available because it’s literally baked into the cloud as a concept.
The Brave New Era of Cloud Hosting
Finally, we arrive at cloud hosting – something that essentially combines all of these technologies into a larger category.
Cloud hosting is a broad term, but it can encompass everything from data storage and back-ups, to software hosting, to email, phones, and other unified communications techniques, too. Essentially, cloud hosting is a great option for companies that want EVERYTHING that the cloud has to offer in the easiest, most efficient and most cost-effective way possible.
Questions to Ask Your Vendor About Their Managed Cloud Services
Before you choose a particular managed cloud services provider to work with, there are a few key questions that will need to be answered.
Chief among these is “who is actually responsible for designing and maintaining the cloud infrastructure and managing and supporting these critical services in the first place?” Is the provider offering you ACCESS to the cloud, or are they providing you with a fully managed environment/solution (meaning that you don’t actually have to do anything in-house regarding system management). The former is very, very different from the latter.
Likewise, you’ll want to ask about what security measures are in place to protect against hackers. By its nature, the cloud is very secure – but things can still go wrong. If your vendor isn’t protected or deploying best practices, guess what – your business isn’t, either. You need to make sure you know exactly what steps they’re taking to safeguard your critical information to prevent even a kilobyte of data from falling into the wrong hands.
Finally, always ask if your CSP is SOC 2, Type II certified and whether they can provide references for their services. If they actually do what they say they can do and the quality of service is what they claim it to be, this should not be an issue.
Get all the foundational information that you are looking for here: Data Security Glossary.
Outer Edge: Your Partner in a Cloud-Based Future
In the end, Outer Edge Technology believes in the raw value and potential that ALL of these various cloud-based services and solutions bring to the table. It’s a large part of the reason why we’ve been working so hard to help organizations like yours get the most out of their IT spend for well over a decade.
Whether you’re talking about storage, backup, disaster recovery or business continuity planning, software or hosting, the cloud is nothing if not malleable. There truly is no “one size fits all” approach to the right cloud deployment for your organization. Getting the most out of the cloud oftentimes requires the help and expertise of a trusted partner like Outer Edge that leverages its knowledge and years of experience to design, build and manage IT solutions that align with your requirements — that’s where the experts at Outer Edge shine!
If you’d like to find out more information about how the cloud can enhance your business processes and bottom line, or if you have any other IT questions you’d like to discuss with one of our technology experts, please don’t delay – contact Outer Edge Technology today at 844-OETEDGE or visit our website at www.Outeredge.biz.