12 Cloud Computing Trends and Tips

12 Cloud Computing Trends and Tips

What is the “cloud” phenomenon all about?  You hear it constantly, but what does it mean and how is it used?  I felt that it was important to summarize it in its simplest terms so that people across an organization could understand it and see how it can help them in their daily tasks.  So here you will find 12 tips and facts to, not only help you understand what the “cloud” is, but also where it is going and how you can leverage it.

“Cloud” has been a buzzword the last several years, and with good reason.  The cloud is rapidly reducing costs and improving efficiencies for businesses globally.  So what is all this talk of IT in the sky? In its simplest form, cloud consists of services and/or software that are accessed through the internet instead of your local network. Cloud environments are best housed in highly available, fully redundant and compliant third party audited data centers and are built on enterprise hardware. It’s safe to return to an old business axiom: When transformation occurs it brings new challenges; it also brings opportunity.  Age-old tools of careful due diligence will help businesses make confident decisions in finding the right providers to launch them into this space.

Three Cloud Trends and Tips From Four Cleveland Experts

From Data Center Facility Based Cloud Operator, Kevin Goodman, Managing Director, Partner, BlueBridge Networks
“Businesses must become comfortable understanding the stewards of its infrastructure and all it can gain from cloud utilization”

  1. Reasons to move to a cloud platform. Perhaps you are facing a hardware refresh, new levels of requirements of compliance and /or law, or your company may wish to move towards applications that can drive and grow business. You may want to beef up your disaster recovery and business continuity strategies, be prepared to scale your IT to meet varying customer demands or allow your IT staff to work on the tasks for which they were originally hired (which in turns allows the company to focus on its business core competencies). Some of your business goals should be to connect your mission critical apps into facilities that have faster performance and higher security than your own.
  2.     Find a company that will work with you on a Proof of Concept (POC) and carefully and in phases fit it to the cloud.  A POC will determine the feasibility of moving to the cloud; it can also be a useful tool to see how well companies work together. The last thing a company needs once it contracts with a service provider is the feeling that it is a hostage and not a customer
  3.    Look for a cloud provider capable of moving you to a global economy. An important business consideration in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing technology landscape is leveraging IT ecosystems.  It’s important to partner with groups that can understand business objectives and collaborate to meet and exceed your own.  From CyberSecurity and Computer Forensics expert Timothy M. Opsitnick, Esq. TCDI “Security must remain a constant focus and practice”:
  4. Security is a snapshot at any given point in time but is constantly changing and therefore you need to remain vigilant during the entire relationship and perform security reviews on a periodic basis.
  5.    Many breaches occur because third parties are entrusted with your data so make sure they understand your obligations and their obligations.
  6.  Be practical and get started and forget about perfection but understand the differences between security and compliance.  From Third Party T Auditor, Tom Aumiller, Director of Information Tech., Maloney + Novotny LLC  “If your data is in the ‘Cloud’, compliance is part of your business”
  7. If you outsource a process involving data you are still responsible, make certain that you have strong policies and procedures in place to monitor third party providers with access to your data.
  8. Requests for compliance are increasing and there are literally dozens of compliance frameworks, but they all share a pattern – make compliance a repeatable event and cross reference controls to the various metrics that apply to your business, such as SOC, ISO, HITRUST, PCI, etc.
  9.   Customers are raising the bar on compliance. Innovations in security are being suggested by your customers.  Keep your sales force educated and part of the IT discussion – make certain that dialog between your departments (IT, Business Development, Operations, and Security) is ongoing. From leading Attorney Michael D. Stovsky, Partner Chair, Innovations, Information Technology and Intellectual Property Group Member of Executive Committee, Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP “Some Legal Must Haves for Cloud Deals”:
  10. Data security and privacy compliance must be appropriately considered and negotiated in to agreements with all cloud vendors.
  11.  Effective service level agreements are a must for agreements with all cloud vendors – more than securing an agreement to “try real hard” and attempt to achieve “target” service levels, these agreements should include bona fide commitments and remedies with teeth for failure to achieve required service levels.
  12. More and more it is becoming “market” to backload payment obligations to go-live or to structure payment obligations for cloud based services in arrears.  Both are recommended as a more effective means of ensuring adequate service particularly when coupled with termination rights and other remedies.

By virtualizing your IT applications and infrastructure, your company creates an opportunity to become more efficient. Using a high-density cloud computing environment, your business also reduces its overall IT footprint.  As you move toward the cloud, be sure to leverage the umbrella of your provider’s audits and compliance to law and best practice.  Reduce and eliminate single points of failure; bring your company to the outside world to remain highly reliable, available and secure. Enter the cloud layers, and find the right type and size for your organization.  (Kevin Goodman is Managing Director and Partner with BlueBridge Networks, a cloud data center and managed services business headquartered in downtown Cleveland.)