The cloud can be as simple or as in-depth as you like.
When we talk about the cloud, we’re simply talking about accessing resources from a location that is not within our own data-center. It’s a concept that’s been around for a long time and has only grown exponentially as data speeds increase and the demand for instant technology resources grow. So maybe it’s something you’ve been investigating for a while or maybe you’re just starting to look into it and need to be sold on why you should look further into cloud?
I think the benefits can go a lot further than just saving time and money. My position has me reviewing environments and examining business solutions every day, and it’s with that knowledge base that I’ve put together a list for you to chew on:
Five reasons you should seriously consider a Cloud deployment:
Ok, so here you are one day at work and your sites traffic is spiking. Your server resources are constraining and causing issues affecting your business. You diagnose that the issue could be due to your entire RAM being consumed, you’ve run out of hard drive space, or maybe your CPU utilization is at its max. If these resources aren’t on hand at your site, we probably have a problem.
Maybe your local vendor doesn’t have stock available for what you specifically need. What if your aged hardware no longer has additional room to accommodate the new parts? This could quickly spiral into an unwanted headache and five hours running around the data-center trying to think of temporary solutions and making phone calls, while the rest of the company holds their breath, expecting a five minute resolution.
With Cloud, most of this can be prevented.
Let’s discuss these first hurdles and their resolution in a cloud environment. Simply call your provider and ask them to add on what you need, whether that’s VPUs, RAM, VMs, or storage. I’ve seen requests completed as quickly as 10 minutes. No more waiting for the hardware to come in, then installing it, or worrying about freed up DIMM slots, bays, etc. The best part – your boss and the C-levels are happy because the business didn’t have to come to a screeching halt. No one likes to be in that position especially if you’re already bantering back and forth with crap support.
2. Disaster Recovery
Ahh, Disaster Recovery, one of my favorite topics. Everybody wants it, but most don’t have it – or at least a plan of some sort. When talking with IT Professionals, I primarily hear about people backing up to tapes, backing up to disk and then throwing it in their car, or having a 3rd party pick it up from their location for safe keeping, etc. All of these are certainly a good step of, at least, having a DR plan. But, what I’ve also found is that the C-Levels or Management team are on a totally different page from their IT guy when it comes to RPO and RTO.
RPO stands for Recovery Point Objective. Essentially, if we had a disaster, at what point in time could we recover to? So, you ask yourself, “Is 15 minutes, 1 hour, 8 hours, 24 hours, or more acceptable for data loss?” RTO is Recovery Time Objective and this primarily translates to how long we can be down-inoperable-all systems gone-no money flowing. You get the point.
Typically when it comes to designing your disaster recovery plan, choosing the hosting provider is NOT the first step. Your internal investigations are key, and it starts with asking one question to the main guy. “What is our acceptable RTO and RPO?”
The reason why I say “acceptable” is because typically we always want the best! Don’t be too quick to jump to a 0-15 minute fail-over or 0-15 minutes data loss, because it will come with a large price tag. But hey, in some cases/industries, that is the requirement and no more downtime than that can be accepted. We’re all affected in different ways, whether were in Banking, Healthcare, Manufacturing, or a small business. Either way, management will typically know the acceptable amount time/data before the company is in danger. All in all, it’s vital to have the conversation and set expectations instead of waiting until it happens.
One VERY cool thing about cloud is that you can use it as your second destination. So, not only are we going to reap the benefits of Cloud Computing , but we can use it in conjunction with our in-house solution. When it comes to Disaster Recovery, there’s a lot to think about. If you’d like to learn more on this area, you can check out our latest Disaster Recovery Fpwebinar video.
3. Decreased Maintenance Overhead
Where do we begin? As an IT Professional, you probably manage just about everything. You are the one wearing all the hats. So, let’s talk from a high-level and break down those hats and see which components in the infrastructure can be offloaded with Cloud.
To spin-up a virtual machine in the on-premises world, here’s a sample of what we’ll need:
- A host
- Support plan on the host
- Support plan on the software
- Security Software
- Support plan for the software
- The software you’re installing
- Support plan for the software
- Backup solution
- Support plan for the software
We could definitely add a lot more to the list. But, I will mention at least one more factor that is most important in my opinion. Your TIME. Each function requires you to support, maintain, troubleshoot, and more. More often than not, an IT Professionals time is spent simply keeping the lights on. When will it be time for IT to be considered a profit center instead of a money bucket?
Technology is fascinating and it could act as your company’s competitive edge against your competition. Think of all the BIG companies out there – they’re doing it, and primarily because they have the revenue to invest in their infrastructure. But, they too are looking into cloud. There’s a lot to be gained from offloading the unnecessary overhead, and investing your time into discovering how IT can contribute most effectively to the business. People worry that Cloud can take their job from them as well, but it’s a false concern. The business still needs someone to talk “tech” and manage the relationship with the provider. And, more importantly, in a fully dedicated environment you still have full access to focus on the core areas of managing the environment without the “unnecessary overhead” components.
Did I mention the free time to innovate within your role and develop the next best thing for your business? That extra time you’ve recovered doesn’t go to waste – it’s poured back into the company with a renewed focus on creating new business solutions.
4. Enterprise Infrastructure/Security
Simply put, a hosting provider’s product comes down to their service – the infrastructure they deliver coupled with the people behind it all. So, of course their profits are going to be primarily invested into these two main areas. Not everyone has the budget to throw tons of money into building an enterprise-level datacenter with top of the line products. So, when it comes purchasing these items, the hosting provider will typically be your best bet (and certainly your most cost-effective). Here are just some of the items you invest in to build an enterprise data-center:
- UPS systems (Uninterruptible Power Supply)
- IPS’s (Intrusion Prevention Systems)
- Multiple ISP’s (Internet Service Providers)
- Monitoring Software
- And other infrastructure pieces such as SANs (Storage Area Networks), Switches, and more.
But, as a cautionary note, always-always-always do your due diligence and ask your hosting provider these questions to make sure it’s not running out of someone’s basement.
Furthermore, learn about their support staff! There are providers that have focused support teams on the product you’re looking into hosting. They’re certified with best-practices etched into their brains and bring a huge boost to your teams’ expertise. Some providers even have personal customer advocates that work specifically with the same clients to handle all their issues and questions one on one.
Lastly, issues/troubleshooting items come up. It’s not a perfect world. But, when they do, your environment is now in the cloud and you’re going to want to make sure the provider has your back when you need them most. So before moving forward, check out their BBB Accreditation and support response time, ask for references, and pound them with questions. It never hurts.
5. Private vs. Public Clouds
Let’s talk about one more step in understanding cloud solutions.
In the hosting world, you’ll hear about fully dedicated, semi-dedicated, and multi-tenant hosting. They can also be known as the Private and Public Cloud. So… what does this mean? It’s not a dumb question – it’s an important one! And it’s a good thing you’re asking, because the first thing you’ll see is that they all have a wide range of price tags connected to them. Just because it’s cheap, doesn’t mean it’ll do everything you want it to do. In addition, some of the environments can take you out of your industry compliances. Typically, it breaks down like this:
- Fully dedicated will dedicate an entire virtual machine or host to your organization.
- Semi-dedicated will have half the solution shared and half dedicated.
- Multi-tenant will be primarily be a shared environment.
Each one of these will give you a certain level of control. This could mean granting you full access to the Web Server, SQL, AD (Active Directory) and more, or having no control at all. In addition, the level of customization will be affected with what solution you choose.
For more information you can check out our Public vs. Private Cloud Fpwebinar video.
Now, to wrap it all up:
I hope that I’ve kept you intrigued and given you some food for thought for your next cloud conversation. Technology is my passion and I love chatting about it. Don’t ever hesitate to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Fpweb.net, we love to post things that are relevant to conversations we have with customers and people we meet at conferences. And we always run short Fpwebinars on a monthly basis that present overviews of topics related to the cloud, IT, and SharePoint and are followed by a Q&A at the end.