As the fallout from Hurricane Sandy continues, Paul Boyer wants you to think about the cloud. Don’t let your IT network drown, he said, pointing to stories of servers damaged by Sandy.
Boyer is the executive director of Mt. Laurel, N.J.-based Ancero, a company that offers public and private cloud services, as well as disaster planning for a business’s IT. After Sandy, he said he heard of businesses that were “unable to access critical IT services due to loss of power” and ones that “lacked a data back-up or recovery plan.”
In case of another exceptionally rainy day, Boyer said all you have to do is make at least a partial switch to the cloud. Here’s Boyer’s how-to guide:
Public or Private Cloud?
- A private cloud is a virtualization platform built by you in your data center (or co-location facility) that leaves you in control of cloud management and the overall cost of supporting the environment. It can take advantage of optimizing underlying hardware resources in a dynamic and flexible manner. It can also utilize failover and site recovery options for high availability and disaster recovery.
- A public cloud can either be a Software as a Service (SaaS) model whereby you share a software system with others and pay a monthly fee for usage. Customer universes are effectively protected and shielded from one another for security purposes. A SaaS model eliminates much of the overhead associated with IT support as well as the headaches of system refreshes and upgrades, but lack of control and the potential of a security breach are factors to be considered.
- Public clouds can also be an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model where you effectively rent computing resources (compute, memory, storage and bandwidth) from a provider and manage the “virtual devices” as if they were your own. IaaS provides a flexible, “elastic” computing model that can scale as needed.
What cloud option is best and how do I decide?
Integration concerns with other systems — whether or not the cloud will work smoothly with the systems you already use — are a major consideration when deciding if you should move to the cloud. Before you make the move, figure out: Will the cloud-based solution allow the same functionality as before? For example, how will a cloud-based e-mail system integrate with unified messaging and on-premise telephone systems?
If you decide on the public cloud, research the track record of cloud provider. Not all cloud providers are created equally. Investigate any reported outages or breach of data privacy. Is it a highly redundant cloud provider (power, connectivity, data replication, site-to-site failover, etc.)? What is the recourse for outages exceeding the limits specified in their service level agreement (SLA)?
Private clouds tend to be more expensive, but your information does not sit on the same network as anyone else. For companies dealing with sensitive information, such as doctor’s offices and law firms, a private cloud may be the better option.
What about the next storm?
Disaster Recovery Planning is perhaps the most compelling reason to move to the cloud. Most public clouds have backup and recovery built right into their offering, including data replication and site failover. Other providers offer these features and benefits for an additional fee.
Some customers plan to use the cloud as their “B” site, or a secondary site that is invoked when the primary site fails. Instead of having to purchase and manage two complete hardware and software systems yourself and replicate between sites, customers can leverage public clouds in the event of a disaster and “spin up” their environment in the cloud until the primary system is restored.
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