Cloud 101: What is the cloud?

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1 Cloud 101: What is the cloud?

2 What is the cloud? There have not been many phenomena in the history of IT that have received so much attention or hype as cloud computing. It seems odd, therefore, that this term has become so misunderstood, misused and misapplied. Put to its simplest terms, Cloud Computing is an approach to computing that s about internet scale and connecting to a variety of devices and endpoints. A standardized IT capability, such as software, application platform, or infrastructure, delivered via Internet technologies in a pay-peruse and self-service way.

3 Why should I move to the Cloud? Cloud computing carries a multitude of benefits for all aspects of business, from operational to financial and everything else in between. These are however dependent on the cloud services that you utilise for your business. Below are a few benefits to business in choosing the Cloud: Managing Director Scalability gives businesses the ability to add or remove services in accordance to business growth. Assurances that IT is in the hands of experts. The Cloud can offer Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity. Finance Director The Cloud can reduce cost while removing excess capital expenditure. Reduced operational costs thanks to lower maintenance activity. Increased control over facility costs allowing you to only pay for what you use. IT Manager Reduced strain on an IT department. Operations become easier as the Cloud can automate back-ups while also factoring for continuity. Increased security with high physical security and enterprise class data security. But why now? Many businesses would ask themselves the question of whether it s the right time to migrate services to the cloud is or whether in fact it is just a phase. Here are a few reasons to move to the Cloud and why it is here to stay. Recession, Recession, Recession Increased uncertainty in the business environment means companies around the world are studying the best ways in which to cut costs, frequently directing them to the case of migrating to the Cloud and its robust yet flexible approach. Green IT Using the Cloud enables businesses to utilise a Greener approach to IT solutions by allowing for power optimisation as all users share the same infrastructure. This, combined with the scalability of the Cloud, allows for further cost savings to an IT department. Technological advances Technology seems to be advancing quicker than ever with something changing almost every day. Adopting the Cloud allows you to take advantage of this without applying the changes yourself and making the most of increasing market opportunities available to you and your business. Increasing Usage Join a long list of world famous companies that are hopping on the Cloud bandwagon. For the last decade the Cloud has become a very public facet to many technological strategies of companies worldwide. Will you be left behind?

4 Considerations for Cloud migration So we ve introduced you to the idea of Cloud computing. Before you take any further steps into taking the decision to adopt the Cloud, there are key considerations in which you need to take in to account before you do such a thing. This will help to inform your decision as well as steer you towards the right provider for you. The Cloud is considered by many to be an unsafe means of harnessing data the problem is the many, in this case, are wrong. The crux of it all is that your data, however it is stored on the cloud, will be very secure. Product offerings will differ from provider to provider and it is imperative to find the right provider to match your particular solution area. Storage Where and how is my data stored? Cloud computing essentially means your data is hosted on a secure and external network from your business premises while allowing safe and easy access to it. There are many providers out there that act as resellers to Cloud providers and this can be dangerous ensure you know exactly who you are dealing with and where they are based, so that you have knowledge of where your data is at all times. If a provider doesn t have precautions in place your data can be at risk from malicious activity over the web. It is therefore vital that any provider you go to is accredited to ISO27001 and ISO9001 standards and that your data is encrypted to the highest standards and sits behind enterprise level firewalls. What happens if I need to get my data back? When you have a vast array of data in the Cloud and you need it back quickly due to change of provider, solution or any other reasons it is essential that you go with a provider that offers a data out guarantee. This will allow you to do one of two things; have the data shipped directly to you and all traces removed from the servers, or you can turn up to the datacentre and transfer everything yourself. This, once again, is completely provider dependent. What about business growth and continuity? A benefit of operating from the Cloud is plain for all to see and that is scalability. Cloud services offer instant ability to expand disk space, memory allowance, processor usage and bandwidth allowance to name a few. Therefore your business application can instantly meet the needs of any unexpected spike in usage. Some providers will even allow the service to adapt itself to demand. To continue business operations most Cloud solutions are backed up and hosted in several different places. This means there is a mirror image of your deployed application across several different datacentres around the country and/or world. Not only does this mean you can continue operating should a datacentre suffer an outage, it also allows faster access to data all around the world as your application can be deployed on several continents at any one time. Is service guaranteed? With Cloud computing you are fully dependent upon a service provider s uptime and availability of your data and applications. To ensure this is guaranteed make sure that the provider offers robust Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and that these are offered at no less than 99.99%. Also ensure you have case studies and references in which to make your decision.

5 The Technology behind it all Many providers have different ways of going about their offering. Some will build their services off the back of successful products such as Asigra and VMWare, while others will have their own offering of cloud based solutions (a la Amazon and Windows Azure). Most, if not all, Cloud platforms are built off existing solutions so ensure that the solution being used ties down perfectly to your product in order to maximise its potential. Ready? Time to get prepared It is absolutely vital that your business is prepared for the deployment and transition to the Cloud. Before doing so it is important for a business to have some specific, measurable, accurate, realistic and time-specified (SMART) objectives in place. The Cloud encourages experimentation & business risk taking. Cost & time to validate ideas is reduced. Small companies can start up, and large businesses can roll out innovative new ventures, without prohibitive costs, delay or risk. Is the cloud actually going to benefit me and my business? You need to establish whether moving to the Cloud will bring operational benefits to the organisation. Capital savings introduced by the Cloud are overwhelmingly attractive but the Cloud cannot substitute every aspect of IT solutions in some business cases. Work out your current expenditure within IT and compare this against that of operating from the Cloud to determine whether you are truly taking advantage of financial benefits that are available which should therefore act as a solid basis to your decision. What am I wanting from the Cloud? Each business case is quite clearly different from another. You may want to utilise cost savings or you may be rolling out a web application that will be taking on more traffic than you have been able to handle before. The possibilities are endless. Identify your requirements against your objectives while also pinning down any possible downsides and build your decision based on informed business strategy rather than moving to the Cloud because you think it might be the best case scenario. Get the key decision makers on board Don t just think that because your idea of the Cloud is a revolutionary one you should go ahead with it. Consult the people within the business that

6 have a say and take on their opinions too. Weigh up the pros and cons to them and be completely transparent within delivering these. You should also consult with legal teams to ensure that no data policies and legislation are broken from the move. Deployment Don t just think that shifting everything to the Cloud will mean that all the work is then done. It requires a detailed strategy that outlines everything to stakeholders and those involved in the project. Performance monitoring and testing throughout the duration is key to a successful Cloud deployment. Innovating in the Cloud The Cloud introduces a number of benefits to businesses and these have been highlighted throughout this document. However one benefit that hasn t really been touched on is the ability to innovate further and farther than most businesses have seen the ability to do before. Post-Cloud Once everything has been done and dusted you need to carefully ensure that all your objectives have been met. Ask yourself whether you can adjust your SMART objectives to adapt to the live nature of the product. Further to this see if your Cloud provider is meeting your expectations and the SLA that you previously explored. The Cloud Process The move to the Cloud should be considered similar to the diagram. While many see it as a transactional move towards operational necessity, the loop should always be assessed in order to find ways to reduce costs and increase work flow and/or productivity through optimisation of the Cloud process. Introducing these new levels of innovation are allowing companies to connect with their customers in new ways all the time with the Cloud allowing for easy adoption of new routes and strategies. Here are just a few cases to argue the point of innovation. The Cloud encourages experimentation & business risk taking Cost & time to validate ideas is reduced Small companies can start up, and large businesses can roll out innovative new ventures, without prohibitive costs, delay or risk. Democratizing access to scale & reach Levels the playing field for innovators, and lowers barriers to entry Small companies can act big Challenge the status quo Forced to focus on competitive differentiation Focus on specialisation and differentiation will build new ecosystems & value chains Envision new combinations of cloud-based solutions - create new ways of performing end-to-end processes Platform for radical innovation in business design Supports the creation of market places & exchanges

7 About Windows Azure Windows Azure, simply put, is the cloud services platform hosted in Microsoft data centres worldwide. It provides a platform and a set of services that can be used either on their own or together to provide a powerful solutions. The flexible and interoperable platform is used to build new applications to run from the cloud or give cloud capabilities to existing applications. Windows Azure simplifies maintaining and operating applications by providing on-demand compute capabilities and storage to host, scale and manage web services and connected applications. But what is Windows Azure a good choice for? Many IT customers who want to extend in to the cloud and integrate existing on-premises applications with cloud-based services will benefit massively. ISVs (Independent Software Vendors) who require internet scalability with global reach can benefit from a much lower administrative overhead. Further to that, web and application developers who want to leverage their existing expertise with familiar tools will be warmly welcomed by the Windows Azure platform. Windows Azure is the latest technology in Microsoft s Software + Services strategy, which helps meet the growing demand for flexibility and a common experience across devices, on-premises applications and cloudbased services. Providing an environment for developing, operating, migrating and managing applications using a common toolset making Windows Azure a friendly environment for everyone involved. The Windows Azure platform can be an essential part of your IT portfolio by automating critical system management tasks, providing scalable computing and storage capacity and also extending on premises applications to the cloud. Why would you do any of this? Well not only does it leave you free to focus on yours or your customer s needs, it allows you to scale your IT quickly to cope with unpredicatable and unexpected usage. it also enables advanced interactions and further engagements with consumers, business partners and other organisations. Windows Azure and SQL Azure enable you to build, host and scale applications in Microsoft datacenters. They require no up-front expenses, no long term commitment, and enable you to pay only for the resources you use.

8 Office 365 The familiar Microsoft Office collaboration and productivity tools delivered through the cloud. Everyone can work together easily with anywhere access to , web conferencing, documents, and calendars. It includes business-class security and is backed by Microsoft. Whether you are a small business or multinational enterprise, Office 365 offers plans designed to fit your organization s unique needs. Office 365 for Small Businesses Gives you anywhere access to , documents, contacts, and calendars so you re always up-to-date. Familiar tools make it easy to connect and work with others. Office 365 comes with the robust security and reliability you need to run your business. So what can Dot Net Solutions do for you? Not only experts in developing business solutions, Dot Net boasts Microsoft Gold certification and specialise in creating Microsoft tailored business applications, cloud solutions, cloud integration and cloud portals as well as just about anything else you could want or need from a business solutions, including the successful and familiar Office 365. Keen to embrace the latest, up and coming technologies, Dot Net has built a reputation for delivering solutions that exceed client expectation and go above and beyond the known way of thinking. Office 365 for Medium Size Business and Enterprise Your employees get the productivity and collaboration tools they want, while your IT uses a single administration console to manage features, policies and monitor service health from virtually anywhere with one easyto-use, cloud-based tool. All with the security, 24x7 support and reliability you expect from Microsoft. Constantly challenging ourselves, and with industry thought leaders as a part of the team here at Dot Net, we look to dazzle customers with solutions that look and feel the part while also ensuring top customer satisfaction through the use of innovation and creativity within development. Dot Net Solutions has been a best of breed development house for 7 years and is widely regarded as a poster-child to Microsoft. Paving the way through the software market, led by industry professionals and delivered by genuine enthusiasts, Dot Net produces mind blowing solutions that can engage, perform and react to any business situation. Dot Net are also fully flexible too. We can work with agencies and preferential partners to get the job done exactly the way you want it to be done.

9 2/3 case studies to follow also! The familiar Microsoft Office collaboration and productivity tools delivered through the cloud. Everyone can work together easily with anywhere access to , web conferencing, documents, and calendars. It includes business-class security and is backed by Microsoft. Whether you are a small business or multinational enterprise, Office 365 offers plans designed to fit your organization s unique needs. Office 365 for Small Businesses Gives you anywhere access to , documents, contacts, and calendars so you re always up-to-date. Familiar tools make it easy to connect and work with others. Office 365 comes with the robust security and reliability you need to run your business. Office 365 for Medium Size Business and Enterprise Your employees get the productivity and collaboration tools they want, while your IT uses a single administration console to manage features, policies and monitor service health from virtually anywhere with one easy-to-use, cloud-based tool. All with the security, 24x7 support and reliability you expect from Microsoft.

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