Your complete guide to Cloud Computing

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1 Your complete guide to Cloud Computing 1 Doc V1.0 Dec 2013

2 Table of Contents Hosted Desk- 3 The Cloud and Cloud Computing... 4 The benefits of Cloud Solutions 6 The Cloud is Growing - Rapidly 7 Resolving IT Challenges through the Cloud 9 Choosing a Cloud Service Provider 10 Summary 2 Doc V1.0 Dec 2013

3 The Cloud and Cloud Computing... For many businesses and organisations, The Cloud has already formed an important a part of their IT strategy. Although a number of smaller businesses might not yet be fully familiar with the term itself, it certainly does not diminish the importance of the benefits the Cloud brings, including business agility, competitive advantage along with the financial benefits. hosting your to more complex solutions such as desktop virtualisation. Regardless of the type of service, the number of businesses moving to the Cloud has been growing rapidly. In fact, recently the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) predicted that by the end of 2013, as many as 76% of all UK businesses would actually be using at least one cloud service. The beauty of the Cloud, however, lies in its universal application, meaning that the service can easily fit the requirements of any business, no matter what size whether you re an SME or a multinational corporation. All kinds of industries are adopting the Cloud, including the Public Sector in schools and government, charities and recently the health care sector are all realising the benefits it can bring to them. What is the guide about? What is the Cloud? Simply speaking, it is an expression given to a service that is available via the internet from a centralised location such as a datacentre or even your own office servers. A simple example of how the Cloud works could be website hosting very few companies do this themselves because it is not the optimum solution for every business or organisation, hence most businesses outsource it with a hosting company. Going back to the Cloud, it is essentially nothing more than the distribution of a hosted (virtual) IT service provided either locally from your server room or centrally from a datacentre. Adoption of Cloud Computing takes many forms from a simple offsite data Backup and Disaster Recovery service, The purpose of this guide is to look at the key drivers that are leading both private and public sector organisations to move toward Cloud Solutions; and to analyse the real benefits they are seeing through the Cloud. This is what has inspired many industry analysts to state that the time for just dabbling in the cloud is over TransNexus. From here on, in the Cloud will play an important part of the IT strategy for more than 70% of businesses globally. Having said that, the rationale behind adopting Hosted IT Solutions will differ from one business to another of course, but there are common drivers of Cloud adoption which will relate to businesses and organisations regardless of size. 3 Doc V1.0 Dec 2013

4 The Benefits of Cloud Solutions What are the benefits of Cloud Solutions for Businesses? There are a number of strategic, cost and operational benefits associated with moving some or even all of your IT services to the Cloud. Some businesses will move all of their IT services into the Cloud (full cloud) and others will go for a more hybrid cloud approach, partnering with cloud service providers to supply specific services, such as Hosted Exchange or hosting servers for example. Did you know? One of the most common reasons moving into the Cloud is the potential for cost reduction. Whatever solution you choose, recent surveys have shown that the key drivers behind cloud adoption are: Costs One of the most commonly muted reasons for moving IT into the Cloud is the potential for cost reduction and predictability. With the Cloud, there is much less requirement to maintain and upgrade physical hardware and software as that is often done for you as part of the service you subscribe to. The Cloud gives businesses better transparency of costs and fixed pay as you use prices which, for many CFOs is crucial for budget allocation and planning. Flexibility The Cloud allows users to access all or just some (depending on specific business needs) of your company network resources remotely through an internet connection. Data, information, projects, statistics, literally anything you need can be accessed on a wide variety of devices including laptops, tablets, pocket PCs and Smartphones on almost any platform including Apple, Android and Windows devices, OSX and even Linux. Scalability As the business requires, any IT resources and users can be added and removed without having to think about implementing new servers or resources to do so. With centrally managed control, you can add more tools for users as they require and decide how, when and by whom your business data is accessed. This feature is proving to be more valuable than ever, as today s ever more mobile business environment forces organisations and businesses to increasingly rely on remote and mobile workers. Reliability Cloud service providers spend a lot of time and money on developing reliable platforms with better firewalls, more failover and redundant systems than almost any individual organisation would. In today s environment most providers can boast at least a 99% uptime of services over long periods. This is a far greater level of service availability than is typically achieved in-house by most businesses, meaning your users are less likely to be unable to work due to IT issues and often, where the issues occur, they are resolved much faster. 4

5 The Benefits of Cloud Solutions (continued) Security With a lot of coverage in the media about this subject, the fact is that any reliable and trusted cloud service provider treats security as a top priority. Every precaution possible is taken to make sure that everything is secure, from the physical security of the datacentres to the highest specification firewalls and encryption, all of which is designed to protect your business and its important data. The 5 Key Benefits of Cloud Solutions for a Business Low Cost Flexible to Suit your Needs Scalable User Addition Cloud providers certainly invest more time and funds on security than most organisations would to protect their in-house IT systems in order to deliver a robust and secure service. With a reliable and trusted Cloud solution, everything is locked up in secure UK based ISO certified datacentres, so your data, in most cases, is even more secure than it would be on premise. Reliable Platforms Secure Cloud Solution This list of possible drivers for adopting the Cloud is by no means exhaustive. There are lots of other reasons for cloud adoption and more and more different types of cloud services evolving, many of which are developed to solve business challenges in particular areas. With help from a good service provider, it s your call on what aspects of your IT are feasible to move to the Cloud. 5

6 The Cloud is Growing - Rapidly Why is the Cloud Growing Rapidly? There are a number of factors at play here that have converged over the last few years to drive the demand for cloud services up. Some are associated with the key drivers we covered earlier but others are simply because the technology is the strongest than it has ever been. If you look at only the last 5 years: Business Mobility Needs Have grown and today, organisations are required to switch to mobile, remote support, home working, field service and travelling personnel who do need instant access to company resources to maintain productivity and everybody wants an instant flow of information. Data Centres Have developed into a huge global industry where innovative cloud providers can purchase dedicated space to build their platforms securely with all of the internet connectivity needed to provide a good, fast and stable service. Internet Speeds Have generally increased with the roll-out of fibre broadband and 4G mobile networks that can stream data and video faster than ever. This has allowed a far greater scope of services to be provided through the cloud at speeds that make them possible and reliable. Virtulalisation technology Has continued to evolve at a rapid rate meaning cloud service providers and even internal IT departments can do so much more with less physical resources, along with providing services they simply could not 5 years ago, much more easily. Taking into account all these circumstances happening over the last 5 years, the Cloud has really come into its own. It is now possible to deliver more cost efficient, flexible and scalable IT as a service which businesses have never had access to before. This has been well noted particularly by the SMEs sector that has used the Cloud as an efficient method of accessing enterprise level technology at lower costs making competition with larger businesses possible. Economic Climate Has also changed with a global recession that forced all organisations to look closely at more cost efficient and flexible methods of delivering and scaling IT to the business. 6

7 Resolving IT Challenges through the Cloud How the Cloud can resolve current IT challenges? In line with the key drivers for cloud adoption mentioned earlier, it is important to analyse where the Cloud can benefit over an in-house solution. The cloud can give you numerous advantages, especially when it comes to operational aspects including: IT Costs The in-house challenge With an in-house IT infrastructure, at best, costs are unpredictable. The business is forced to pay for IT personnel to maintain everything from hardware and software to end user queries. Being limited to the IT equipment bought 2 years ago, each enterprise with an in-house IT solution will need to spend even more to replace hardware, upgrade Office software and Anti-Virus every 1-3 years. In essence, in-house IT can be costly and very unpredictable. The hosted solution With the Cloud service such as hosting a server or a hosted desktop environment, maintenance on the core of the network is handled for you. There is no requirement for server maintenance or upgrades, purchasing the latest version of Office or worrying about Anti-Virus for the hosted environment. You only pay for what you need on a monthly basis helping your expenditure to be predictable, prices affordable and ensuring that your business is kept up to date with latest technology. Flexibility The in-house challenges One of the major issues with an in-house infrastructure is the lack of service flexibility for employees. Users may need to travel and access their files remotely but have no dedicated computer to access the network resources. With in-house, user s mobility and what they have access to is often limited and in many cases the data cannot be taken away from the office. The hosted solution A Hosted Desktop solution or hosting a server allows accessing desired services or resources on any internet ready device, giving an increasing degree of flexibility and employee productivity. Accessing, editing and sharing important work documents and network resources without being in the office or being stuck in front of a PC not only becomes a major improvement but a significant advantage. Scalability The in-house challenges There might be times where businesses would hire more staff at peak times which require more server resources, desktop capacity or communications tools such as and phones. New software roll-outs can also prove to be tricky, especially if you have remote users. With an in-house solution this would require them to physically bring their laptop into the office or setting up a separate remote session for every user. The hosted solution Cloud services are highly scalable and centrally managed. You can add or remove resources and users at any time with a pre-agreed set of applications and access levels, getting them up and running instantly. You can distribute applications across any number of users using a Hosted Environment too which removes the hassle of installing 7

8 Resolving IT Challenges through the Cloud (continued) Security The in-house challenges Securing business networks has always been tough. With the ever increasing type and volume of threats a number of businesses and organisations can experience, from denial of service (DDOS) attacks to smarter viruses and malware, preventing these from happening and equally mitigating them is often an on-going and thankless task that involves continual investment in threat management devices and their maintenance. Even when you think you have dealt with them, often there are internal threats including potential malicious intents from employees or visitors. The cloud solution The hardware, your network and all data are in physically secured datacentre which usually has practically military grade security protocols for access to the centre. They also have ISO certification for data security with providers themselves constantly investing in high specification anti-spam, anti-virus and advanced firewalls systems to ensure of full data security. At a service level, there are many security features around user access, including two-factor security at login, ability to lockout data download or the ability to run application updates which may contain viruses. Some providers can even provide you the ability to remote wipe an entire device instantly if it is lost or stolen. So not only does the cloud provide effective security, it also allows you to control it all centrally if required. Reliability The in-house challenges Whether the business needs to operate 24/7, in different locations, over various connectivity or possibly from anywhere in the world, the in-house IT department needs to support solutions to any of the above situations and constantly be prepared for issues with reliability and server downtime. Being forced to solve the above issues out of hours not only takes time but significantly increases costs and may lead to lost business opportunities over time. The cloud solution Cloud solutions typically offer a 99%+ uptime SLA and support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All the users can access resources and services 24/7 whatever the location, provided there is internet access, and even on a 3G/4G connection. All that meaning your IT infrastructure can operate effectively, anywhere and at any time. Over the last two research projects operational flexibility was the primary driver. However, when looking at the overall justification for Cloud investment, flexibility and cost savings are measured as the main drivers by 71 and 66 percent of organisations respectively. These two factors continue to dominate the agenda and expectation of end users in moving to the Cloud. Cloud Industry Forum 8

9 Choosing a Cloud Service Provider How to choose a right Cloud Service Provider When choosing your cloud service provider, it is important to look much deeper than the price. Make sure you check out reviews, case studies and ask for the specification and location of their datacentres. You do not want to find your data being held outside the UK, with so many differing laws surrounding who may have access to your information. 5 Top tips when choosing a Cloud Service Provider: Check the Reviews What services they deliver UK based datacentres UK based support Offer a free trial Look for a provider that can understand your business and support the wider needs associated with migrating some or all of your services into the Cloud. A provider that can also supply the broadband and mobile internet services you will use to access your cloud solutions which removes any layers of complexity in resolving potential connectivity related issues with other ISP s. Make sure that a desired provider can not only support the migration project but support you from there, including working with your application vendors to help resolve any potential issues that may arise in that integration. Lastly, ask for a free trial so you can test the service and check whether it actually fits your business needs. Where possible, speak to existing clients that are already using the service from that particular provider. 9

10 Summary It has never been a better time for your business to adopt cloud computing and enjoy its benefits. If it is not already, the Cloud should be an important part of your IT strategy for the future. However, you need to make an assessment of what cloud services will suit and benefit your business the most and how you can integrate them with existing services. Contacting the experts may save you both time and money and changes to your business will be prompter. Currently, the most commonly and rapidly adopted cloud services are based around cloud infrastructure services, business mobility and communications products such as hosted servers and desktops, hosted exchange , hosted VoIP, MS Lync and one of the basic cloud solutions (at the same time the most important) that your business should not function without Backup and Disaster Recovery. All these solutions allow you to communicate better, work smarter and give the ability to scale quickly whilst saving money. Whatever you think about the cloud, it is fair to say it is here to stay and will continue to develop with new innovative solutions emerging. The most appropriate solution is to find a high quality cloud services provider who can not only provide the service but also manage the migration process and give you instant support. Cloud4 Computers is a leading provider of Cloud Computing, Business Mobility and IT Solutions in the UK and abroad since With over 15 years of technical and commercial experience, our main focus is to deliver reliable and effective Cloud Solutions to any business, charity or public sector organisation. Realising that no business or organisation is the same, Cloud4 Computers offers unique solutions fitting your specific needs and requirements along with high level support. Contact a team member today to get more information about Cloud Solutions and determine which Cloud Service would best fit your needs and requirements Helpline: Connect with us on: 10 Doc V1.0 Dec 2013

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