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Choosing the cloud that's right for you

Al Kuebler | April 1, 2015
There are degrees of commitment to the cloud, and more than one cloud model to consider.

Besides all that, you have to figure out how many physical servers and virtual servers you need for the processing power necessary to operate your business. You also need storage of some kind, probably a storage-area network (SAN), for maintaining your important data and documents. You have to figure out how much storage you are going to need, now and in the future, and you'll want to get that right, because SANs are expensive.

IaaS offerings remove the need to anticipate your needs; expansion (or contraction) is easily accomplished, with no costs incurred until the additional capacity is needed. And Iaas also allows for varying degrees of control. An organization may want its IaaS provider to replace its server room but let the organization's own staff administer the replacement site. Others might cede administration duties to the provider, allowing them to reduce their head count or redeploy those IT workers to areas where they are more needed.

The hybrid cloud

Some businesses can benefit by using multiple cloud approaches. You may have a highly proprietary business application that is better kept on-premises, but you also use Office 365 in the public cloud and maintain your accounting system in the private cloud.

Your IT management team or technology adviser can help evaluate the technology you are using, build a business case for each of your cloud and on-premise applications and determine where your systems should optimally reside. Those decisions are primarily based on security and controls, as well as on the extent of your IT team's skills and abilities. If you have a small IT team, you may not be able to manage a data center or your accounting system in a private cloud environment. However, an IT adviser can guide you in implementing these enhanced capabilities.

Although hybrid environments can be complex, your users needn't be overwhelmed by that, since all the complexity is behind the scenes. With single sign-on, a hybrid environment can feel to them like a single server maintained and dedicated for their needs at your site.

Listen to the business drivers

Several business drivers steer organizations to the cloud, but three have emerged as the most important for organizations of all sizes and in all industries:

  • A preference for operating expenditures over capital expenditures -- As mentioned earlier, transitioning to an operating expenditure model provides more cash on hand and more financial flexibility for the business.
  • Compliance concerns -- A business that has to meet compliance requirements can run into unwanted expenses, audits and headaches. All those woes can be alleviated by working with a private cloud provider with demonstrated, current security and controls.
  • IT staffing and competencies -- The technology competencies required to run a secure, reliable IT environment have become so varied and complex that no individual can do it all. Talent has become increasingly expensive and very difficult to find and keep.

 

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