Working From The Cloud

 By Don Shadrake, CIO  the Reserves Network

There is a lot of buzz right now about working “in the cloud”  If you have a Yahoo, Gmail, or AOL account for email, or use web backups, or share pictures and updates on social media, you are in fact working in the cloud – you’re just borrowing resources on someone else’s hosting machinery.

Pushing your company resources to a cloud platform can make sense, especially where you have a large territory to cover, with lots of highly mobile employees.  It’s usually not a hard transition to make, and depending on needs, can be very cost effective.  The benefits can include quick setup of new offices and workers; reliable systems that aren’t affected by weather, disasters, or circuit outages; and 24/7 access to important information on laptops, tablets, or smartphones.

Before your company makes the leap, you just have to weigh options, costs, and your own requirements.  Some big ones:

          SECURITY – do I need to ensure all data is encrypted, including backups, to comply with regulatory or business requirements?  Does my security needs mean I CAN’T work from a shared host environment, where systems are shared by many companies?  How do I prevent, respond to any attempted breach of my security systems?

          BANDWIDTH AND REDUNDANT CONNECTIONS – how many people will be connecting to my system at one time?  Do I need to provide “failover” circuits so that an outage with a local carrier doesn’t affect anyone’s ability to get to my systems?  How much Bandwidth is sufficient for my needs?

          MANAGEMENT – if I have my own systems and servers, who is managing them day to day?  If I am in a HOSTED environment, what kind of support can I get from the Hosting organization, and during what hours?  Do I need equipment FAILOVER, so that if one server stops working, another automatically takes it place?

          SOFTWARE – do my systems speak cloud?  Can I migrate the programs we use to a cloud-based environment?  Is now the time to re-design how we work, to better support mobile devices?

Most local and national hosting companies can answer a lot of these questions, as they have years of experience with the things you want to consider.

My company has been “in the cloud” for many years now, I’d be happy to answer questions as well.  We’ve been very happy with the many advantages of cloud computing, and can’t imagine doing it any other way as we’ve grown and evolved.

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