As a Management and Business Consultant plus a vCIO, (“Virtual” or “Interim” Chief Information Officer) for many companies, I am constantly called upon to aid clientele with various business projects. Over the past three weeks I have worked with several companies to spearhead their migration to the cloud. Some have been very simple, whereas a couple have been somewhat complex. Today – I thought I would share some of that knowledge with you in hopes to educate those who are thinking about moving to the cloud but not sure what that means or how to begin.
Organizations face greater IT challenges today than just a few years ago. Methods of access are expanding to include networks, clouds, laptops, and myriad of handheld devices such as smartphones and tablets. Data is in different languages, structured, unstructured, and semi-structured, and generated from locations around the globe. Data growth and the increased use of rich media and multi-channel communications are driving new and sophisticated regulations that are impacting the information landscape. Regulations now focus on interaction-based models, signaling the need for systems that can not only monitor and capture data in all its forms, but understand its meaning. As a result, lawyers, compliance professionals, records managers, and technologists must reconsider how interactions are managed—whether between employees, with customers, or among a host of other potential constituents.
The challenge of how best to meet these diverse demands, while achieving optimal performance, often comes down to how to execute at the technology infrastructure level. This is a key concern for companies and organizations, and managers that sets the course for how an organization manages information. Determining a course of action requires careful attention and consideration.
More and more companies are opting for cloud-based solutions to meet their most stringent privacy and security requirements for archiving, eDiscovery, compliance, records management, and data protection. Cloud computing can provide new levels of security, collaboration, agility, speed, and cost savings for organizations of any size and type. This shift from on-premise software to on-demand, cloud-based solutions enables organizations to lower costs and mitigate risk, while defensively enforcing comprehensive information governance (IG).
Evaluating Cloud Deployment
Cloud computing uses the web server facilities of a third-party provider on the Internet (the “cloud”) to store, deploy, and run applications. When considering a move to the cloud, organizations should research the costs, risks, and benefits of both public and private deployments to determine which route best meets unique legal, regulatory, and business needs.
Private clouds can offer a range of key capabilities that public clouds cannot address, such as the ability to replicate critical security and operational requirements, ensure data segregation between clients, and enable adherence to regulatory requirements on behalf of customers. Straightforward disaster recovery and streamlined backup are also common offerings, though the extent to which these services can be provided may vary greatly between private and public cloud services in terms of how the capabilities integrate with the software solutions being used by the organization.
Additionally, with storage and server needs in the hands of a third-party, an organization essentially shifts the burden from in-house IT to their provider. This allows internal IT departments to focus on business-critical tasks without having to increase costs in hardware, software, manpower and training. With the latest capabilities available through cloud computing, the advantages afforded through an on-premise deployment—cost, ease of set up, scalability, security, and ROI—can not only be matched, but also exceeded in the cloud. As well the time-frame to deployment can be measured in day as opposed to months.
Public versus Private Clouds
For enterprise, legal, and government organizations, the option to deploy cloud computing overwhelmingly indicates the use of secure, private cloud services. These organizations cannot risk exchanging critical security capabilities and overall system flexibility for any potential savings offered by a “public” cloud service.
Public Cloud – Public cloud computing is typically the option reserved for traditional mainstream consumers, most commonly found in forum sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as through sources such as Google Docs, and Microsoft Azure. While a public cloud’s lower cost structure could seem attractive, the deficiencies in security, accessibility, and scalability make it unfeasible for most companies.
Private Cloud – The term “private cloud” refers to an on-demand, scalable environment that is either a technology subset of the organization’s current technology infrastructure or an isolated network environment hosted by a provider. Private clouds offer the highest levels of security, scalability, accessibility, and flexibility and are the option used by the world’s leading organizations. Private clouds provide the greatest benefit when a specific solution is just one of many hosted applications leveraging the same corpus of data. These are normally higher priced than public clouds.
Better Management of Resources The ability to remain agile when business disruptions arise is key to sound information management practices. As in the case of mergers and acquisitions, organizations may need to quickly bring on board massive data stores. Using an on-premise solution could make the process prohibitive, requiring extensive time and resources to deploy additional infrastructure elements. The benefits offered by cloud computing for governance and to meet business obligations ensure information is properly retained, preserved and disposed of according to legal, regulatory, and business requirements. By using a cloud-based solution, businesses can retire unused applications or licensed databases entirely, thus eliminating the license cost but still holding the information if needed in the future, but at a greatly reduced cost.
Overall Cloud Advantages
Cloud computing alleviates adoption complexity, reduces IT overhead, and enables organizations to drive information governance programs directly from the cloud. Advantages include the ability to do the following:
– Increase the predictability of costs through consumption-based pricing – Scale up or down as information governance, and litigation and compliance burdens change – Achieve ROI faster by having less to build, maintain, and upgrade – Increase agility to meet business needs – Deploy gradually to cloud-based information governance by module or department, allowing for hybrid deployments that mix cloud and on-premise capabilities, depending on unique business requirements and without disrupting users – Simplify and optimize the IT environment by having less to own and operate – Ensure data integrity and disaster recovery with sophisticated, automated data protection capabilities – Allow organizations to drive a range of information governance capabilities directly from the cloud
I have broken this topic into two parts, please come back on Thursday for the conclusion.
If you would like, we provide a Free Technical Assessment, this can be beneficial to new and startup companies that are not sure where to start.