10 Things to Consider When Putting Your Organization’s Data in the Cloud. Technology Engineering Group.

10 Things to Consider When Putting Your Organization’s Data in the Cloud

October 28, 2014

Although hybrid cloud solutions are continuing to gain in popularity, many companies – especially those with sensitive data – may still be hesitant to move organizational data onto cloud servers.  And certainly, security is one of many items to consider when deciding whether a cloud-based solution is right for your company.  Here we look at 10 things to consider when deciding whether to implement a cloud-based or hybrid solution for your organization:

1. Security of Data in the Cloud

If you have confidential or sensitive data that you are considering storing in the cloud, then you might be thinking about the viability of this option from a security standpoint.  But the majority of cloud services providers are kept to high security standards, including implementing the use of password safeguards and complicated algorithms for encryption and other security means.  This means your data will be safe – whether housed on premises or off-site on a cloud server.

2. Is the Cloud the Best Place for Customized Functionality?

Based on personal experience, unless your specific business function is clearly defined and can be implemented and maintained easily and timely, complex cloud customizations are not something I would recommend.  The reason being is that customized software generally means that there all sorts of APIs and other pieces of interface software in play connecting one piece to another.  This can result in programming challenges, downtime and delays, and stability issues once that functionality is published to the cloud.  That being said, there can be gains in productivity when business functions are placed into a shared area in the cloud across many business units or geographic areas.

3. Do I currently utilize Cloud Services?

The essence of this consideration is: ‘Do I currently have cloud infrastructure already in place at my organization that I could use for additional functions?’ With the widespread use of file sharing services, providing FTP services, hosted web sites, and the steady rate of virtualization adoptions, it is likely that your company is already capable of providing some of its own cloud services.  Oftentimes, implementing a hybrid solution with infrastructure already in place on premises combined with other cloud services, can give your organization the best of both worlds.

4. Speed of Data Access

While this issue is important to management, users especially will want to know that they will continue to be able to access and process their data in a timely fashion, if accessing from the cloud.  Although speed of access is frequently fastest when using onsite technology, there are times when data access speed can actually be increased across organizational units if data is moved to cloud storage.  In fact, this was a motivating factor recently at my company, for moving project management attachment access to cloud storage.  Previously the data was being accessed daily from outside the US behind a server and firewall housed in the States.  Data access was very slow and processing unproductive (10 minutes + for file downloads) for the sister office located in China.  To improve data access speeds (less than 1 minute for file downloads), the decision was made to move this data to redundant cloud servers, which provided faster access for all locations.

5. Management of Vendors

One of the advantages of housing data in the cloud is that it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing scenario.  Living near the heart of ‘The Motor City’, we often encounter and have to comply with, strict policies and procedures for doing business.  For example, one company may only conduct transactions through their EDI vendor or from a customized web portal.  The ability to comply with vendor requests for data interfacing, without having to invest more than is profitable in IT infrastructure, can make moving data to the cloud, very worthwhile.

6. Permanence of Cloud Solution

Another item to consider when looking at putting your corporate data in the cloud is the level of permanence your data access needs are forecasted to be.  For instance, maybe during the “busy season” you temporarily need more drive space and data access speed, but only for a limited time – like during the peak of the holiday retail frenzy.  A cloud storage data access solution could be a good temporary solution to fill this temporary increase in data processing.  Also, will your company require “cold” storage – in other words – long-term storage of data that will remain static?  Storage of cold data typically demands smaller cloud-storage fees and might be attractive to companies for long-term storage as a result.

7. Redundancy

As many organizations know, putting duplicate hardware and software infrastructure into place for redundancy and uptime can be costly.  As an alternative, many companies of all sizes may find the redundancy they’re looking for in terms of disaster recovery via cloud servers that can duplicate IT environments – in terms of services, applications, and other vital infrastructure – minus the huge price tag that comes with replicating the production environment in its entirety.

8. Multiple Locations/Countries?

While it can be advantageous and profitable to expand the business to new locations across the globe, cloud options should be reviewed to determine whether it makes sense to have a local IT infrastructure or whether some of those functions could run from cloud servers. For example, when we opened our sister office in China, not only were we looking to keep costs down, but management was requesting to keep as much of the IT function in the US as possible for oversight.  Therefore, we implemented a combination of both cloud and local IT infrastructure.

9. Is Cutting-Edge Technology/Innovation Required?

Many companies are looking to gain as much functionality from their software systems as possible – tailoring it to their specific needs.  This requires software customization and a test environment for code testing prior to installation into the production environment.  Instead of having IT scrambling to find server space and resources to setup a separate test environment at your organization, this is a scenario in which cost-savings could be realized with a test network hosted in the cloud.

10. Analysis and Reporting

Speaking of customized software – is management at your organization expecting your data to be analyzed, including detailed reports?  One option – instead of spending time and resources on programming in-house tools with the ability to provide “big data” analysis – is to consider cloud-based options already available.  With a “tacked on” cloud solution or web portal that can analyze data after it is uploaded, both time and money could be saved and quicker results generated.

So, after reviewing these 10 considerations, your company should be able to better determine the right balance of on-premises and cloud-hosted data solutions.  Although moving all of your organizational data into the cloud may not be the correct fit for your company, you are likely to find – after careful analysis – a hybrid cloud IT infrastructure solution that will be an optimal fit for its individualized needs.

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