|B/OSS Insider Blog|
Sitting On the Fence Looking Up at the Clouds
Although public clouds have been available for a while now, many companies are still sitting on the fence with respect to cloud services. What will cloud really do for me? Is using cloud more headaches than it is worth? A recent survey sponsored by Citrix found, “While 'the cloud' may be the tech buzzword of the year, many Americans remain foggy about what the cloud really is and how it works."
Over the past year, basic cloud services have started to mature and there are more businesses using these services. When making the decision on whether to use cloud or not, you need to look at what is important to your business:
- Security: Security is always an issue for new services including cloud. Some cloud vendors have addressed this thru identity management, allowing VPN network connections, etc. However, there are still lingering doubts about security. Cloud providers need to be more willing to discuss their security policies with perspective customers and define how they will address security issues. Also, the providers need to be cognizant that customers will want to know how cloud security fits with their internal security infrastructure.
- Privacy/data management: Data in the cloud needs to belong to the business that provides it. Find out how this is handled by the cloud provider.
- Applications: It is important to understand your applications when you are looking at cloud. Applications that are Web-facing, applications that have uncertain demand may fit better with cloud services than more stable legacy applications. So it is probably best to start with a new application. Many clouds are very good development environments.
- Uptime: Outages at Amazon and other cloud provides are big headlines. But is the uptime of cloud services really worse than your internal environment? What are the metrics? Can you get acceptable SLAs on uptime?
- Risk: How do I move out? What if you go under? Who owns the data? The cloud providers should know risk is an issue and address it rather then avoiding a risk discussion. Openness helps here.
- Watch the network: Moving to cloud changes how the users access the applications. Know your user locations when looking at cloud implementations. You may want to utilize multiple cloud locations to optimize performance to users.
- Hybrid Environments: Public/private cloud hybrids allow flexibility but also may cause more work if the private and public implements are very different. Try to keep the two environments compatible.
- Regulations: Understand your industry regulations and how they effect cloud deployments.
- Understand the cost model over time: The usage-based model may look attractive for new, growing applications but may become burdensome over time. Know the model and what your options are.
- Your staff: If your staff is not comfortable with the cloud, there are now training courses that cover cloud computing. Also, if may be useful to start with a small project so they can learn.
Although this is not the simplest decision, cloud is an important IT option.
Rose Klimovich is a consultant and writer on technology. Formerly she was VP Product Management and Product Marketing for the colocation and interconnection products for Telx, where she led the efforts in creating the Telx strategy and developing and investing in new products and services in areas like colocation, cloud, Ethernet Exchange and Telepresence video.