Cloud platforms are gaining popularity among companies looking to increase efficiency, agility, and revenue. Â Small and med-sized businesses are the most agile and able to adopt cloud technologies most easily, but big businesses today are also switching many of their operations to the cloud.Â The cloud offers a company the ability to access a wide variety of business services through the Internet without needing to buy and install costly physical equipment.
A quick look at the industry, however, indicates that many IT professionals are interested in the cloud but don’t really know much about it or how it could help their business.Â Brian Rosenfelt, IT consultant for Skoda Minotti Technology Partners,Â commented on this issue in an interview with HP.com. Â He said, “A lot of what I hear from our customers is that they read all about cloud and they have developed this expectation in their heads that their business is supposed to be in the cloud now. Then I ask what the cloud means to them and often they say that they donâ€™t know, but they know that they should be in there.”
So, how do you know if the cloud is right for your company? Â Let’s take a look at four aspects of the cloud that you can use to help decide if it will be good for you.
The cloud makes it much easier for smaller businesses with fewer resources to enter the marketplace with powerful IT services. Â Usually, there will not complicated equipment to install, learn to use, and maintain. But you have to find out how easily you can migrate to a service provider.
For easy migration, you shouldÂ take advantage of the â€œpay-as-you-useâ€ modelÂ of cloud services, rather than the â€œinstall-and-ownâ€ model. Â This way, there is no need to invest in physical hardware or a costly bundle package which may or may not actually turn out to be useful
SLAs (service level agreements) are the expectations that cloud providers and consumers have about the quality of service to be delivered and the responsibilities of each. You must be prepared to shop around, in order to find great SLAs that will satisfy your needs for a decent price.
SLAs usually cover aspects of the cloud service such as availability, time and access permissions. Â Some important questions to ask when considering cloud services areÂ â€“ Can I access the service whenever I want? Â How responsive will the service and customer support be? Â Are new versions on their way? Â Will any maintenance be conducted? Â What can I expect if the service fails?
Technical Expertise/Powerful Cloud Tools
Before using a cloud service, you have to consider if you can gain access to the staff of the service company. Â Do they have the time and motivation to gather the most qualified people for customer support and maintenance, freeing you up to focus on more important issues?
The cloud is home to powerful tools and applications for many business operations. Â There are communication tools like managed and archived emails, instant messages, virtual phones, and network sharing. Â Monitoring services are often available as well, as are data backup/retrieval. It is your duty to look out for these services.
Many IT workers have had understandable concerns over cloud security.Â There is a good argument,Â however, that proper security on the cloud could actually be easier than on traditional systems.
Look out for cloud providers who store data in off-premise locations, which can be secured both physically (security guards) and in terms of software access permissions. Also find out if the service provider has multiple copies of the data stored in several different places around the world, so an accident at one location will not destroy the data.
By now, many providers have heard the worries of those concerned over cloud security, and have taken strong steps to comfort them by implementing features like active monitoring and real-time security teams.