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Hitchhiker Guide to Cloud Computing

Hitchhiker Guide to Cloud Computing
Mudit Malhotra - | February 10, 2011
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Cloud Computing is where resources are shared as services over the internet without requiring them to be installed or downloaded over the local system. User’s who have anything to do with Information technology ranging from individuals to big companies/corporate houses can use cloud services and pay only for what they use.

Below are the points that need to be thought through while migrating to Cloud or using cloud services:

Vendor Selection

Selecting the right vendor who understands the needs and business requirements of the customers offering the best possible solution at an affordable price is important. Quality, data security, cost, SLA and post sales support should be the criteria for selecting a vendor. One should not go after big names making towering claims.

Service Level Agreement

Service level agreement (SLA) offered by the vendor should fit into your organizational policies. There are many questions that should be answered by the provider e.g.  Uptime and availability of the services, process of switching from one provider to another and any extra charges for this, ensuring that associated data is removed after quitting the service and downtime in moving between providers.

Evaluate Infrastructure

It sounds very tempting that software and hardware costs will drastically come down once the applications are moved to cloud. But assuming that cloud computing can solve all your problems can be a bit misleading. Many enterprises and corporate houses will have highly sensitive data which they might not want to share or migrate to the cloud, so local infrastructure cannot be removed completely. Internet connection, routers, firewall, Wi-Fi points, local backup server and printers are some constituents of infrastructure which will still be needed. Careful evaluation of the infrastructure is needed when using cloud services.

Migrating application to Cloud

Migrating application to cloud could potentially be very quick, straightforward and cost effective, but there is a significant cost if data needs to be transferred outside cloud, between cloud and some other public resource. Cloud platform does not support enterprise security schemes (though there might be some exceptions like allowing cloud machines to be joined with enterprise domain), in such scenarios enterprise single sign on will not work and might require creating separate logins for the application users or some sort of identity federation will be required. So there are many areas which need to be taken care of before making a migration decision.

The Cost

An important question that comes in mind while migrating applications to cloud or using cloud services is the cost involved. Though you have to pay only for what you use, there might be other charges like setup fee, effort in migrating the application to cloud, purchasing subscriptions (charged only once) etc. that needs to be paid. One needs to fully understand the cost model of the service provider and ask the service provider to declare any hidden costs that may be there – some of which may include charges for going over storage limits, the number of help desk calls and the amount of bandwidth you utilize.

Performance

Applications running remotely do not have a smooth user experience; this is because of the intermittent internet connection. Data has to travel around the internet and it goes through many processes as it works its way around various routers, data centers, servers, and other infrastructure. Issues like high network latency, congestion, and slow network speed can become a routine problem and affect the overall work and timeline of deliverables. A solution to this problem is utilizing the geographically located content delivery networks setup by cloud providers; this would decrease the data travelling time and prevent congestion thereby increasing the performance.

Safety Issues/Data Security

Security can be a big concern, especially if there is legally sensitive information to be stored. It is necessary to evaluate the providers security by finding out whether the service provider is a regular target of hacking attempts or how often have his systems been compromised, confidentiality of information, ensuring that information flow is not shared, ensuring that the data stored on the cloud is as safe as any other solution on the local system, data encryption not only while traveling to and from the cloud solution but also when being stored and backed up, trusting the service provider for updating/ backing up records, finding whether regular audits are conducted for the provider. It is important to address all these issues as your decision to move to cloud might do you more harm than solving your problem.

Application Support

It is useful to know out the level of control that you have over the application on cloud. One needs to lookout for the impact of service provider’s average issue resolution time.

 

Technical Integration

Many enterprise applications cannot be completely migrated to cloud either due to cloud restrictions or due to data dependecies with other on-premise applications. In such scenerios only a part of the application can be migrated to cloud and other part remains on-premise which poses integration challenges and might require additional effort and costing. So it is important to analyze these challenges that one might face and then decide as to how and which applications need to be moved to cloud.

Rollback & migrating to another cloud

There can be a situation where an application is migrated to cloud but later the application needs to be migrated to other cloud, there is a risk here as migration costs could be significant and some cloud service providers require a long-term contract to avoid setup fees.

So, the cost and benefits of moving an application to cloud should be analysed properly before actual application migration.

 

Like any new technology cloud computing has its own set of challenges. Careful handling and good understanding of the above mentioned points can not only reduce the risks but can prove as a cost effective solution to your business needs.

To know more about cloud migration services please click here


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