- Posted on 5. October 2012 20:12
While the increasing popularity of Cloud computing spreads throughout the corporate space, the platform still encompasses some confusing elements for professionals and consumers alike. As a Cloud service provider, we feel it’s important for our readers to recognize that Cloud doesn’t have to be so confusing, and that it’s actually a tremendously helpful tool when presented in straightforward terms. Our new series, ‘Cloud Simplified’ seeks to remove the veil of confusion and show you how to leverage the cloud with quick and easy tips. Today, we’ll look at some easy ways to keep your Cloud Data safe:
1) Loose Lips Sink Ships
We’ve all heard this warning at some point in our lives, designed to relate the consequences of sharing secrets. Perhaps one of the most important rules of Cloud data security is to be vigilant about keeping credentials (and other sensitive data) secret and only sharing these details with appropriate parties. There are many security breaches at that could happen at no fault of your own regardless of your best efforts, but this one falls squarely on you, so be mindful always!
2) Good Credentials
The username / password combination for private, secure access has been around a long time because it’s simple and effective. Usually the only time accounts or assets are breached when protected by passwords is because they’re not secure enough or the attacker found out what the credentials were (see #1). So the best way to leverage your password protection is to choose complex, impossible-to-guess passwords and use different credentials for every service or site.
3) One More Question
Security is so important on Cloud based services that it’s often best to include one additional personalized barrier to entry: The Security Question. You probably already use security questions on your banking website, Paypal or even Facebook. Make sure your Cloud systems are configured with a solid security question that’s easy for you, but impossible to guess for anyone else. Especially avoid ‘multiple choice’ type questions such as birthdays and other occasions. Sure, 365 possible answers seems like a lot, but in the realm of hacking and cracking, that’s a very limited number.
4) Multi-Factor Authentication
While passwords and security questions are good measures for protecting your Cloud services and data, sensitive material should be secured with additional defenses. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) puts into place one more ‘lock on the door’. Once you’ve entered your login information and answered your security question, an MFA system would then send you a code to your email or phone which you must enter at the prompt in order to gain access. This prevents attackers from getting in even if they’ve managed to crack your password and security question.
5) Beware of Your Surroundings
One of the greatest things about the Cloud is that you can access it from virtually anywhere there’s an internet connection. But this can also present a vulnerability risk. Your home and office probably have secure networks and you’ve got extra protective measures and privacy protocols in place. But what about when you’re on the go? Using public computers and unsecured wi-fi to connect to your secure Cloud services can be dangerous. This is especially true for applications where you’re using the Cloud for file sharing or as an FTP Replacement. You also run the additional risk of others around you in public watching your actions. Just be constantly vigilant if you must access your Cloud assets while off site.
6) “At Least There’s a Backup”
In the unfortunate event that, despite all your best efforts, there’s still a breach, you will want to still be able to speak those very words. Once your Cloud data and services are in place and secure, your next step is to back up everything on there. If some heinous hacker pokes through to your systems and steals everything, losses that weren’t backed up could prove incredibly costly. Even if you’re storing everything on a hard drive that sits unplugged collecting dust in a locked computer closet at the office, still…”At least there’s a backup.”
By Justin Culver
- Posted on 29. September 2012 01:18
For today’s technologically infused enterprise space, the project manager’s role is growing exponentially and the mounting list of IT projects needs a more enhanced tool set. For this reason, many business leaders are looking to cloud based SaaS (Software as a Service) resources to add to their arsenals.
Because of the hugely diverse array of SaaS project management tools out there, and because every business is unique and requires different needs in terms of SaaS resources, we won’t focus on the variety of tools available, but rather the elements you should consider when shopping for the right tool for your business. We’ve highlighted a few factors below that CEOs and CIOs should consider when the time comes to put these assets into play.
While many project managers consider price to be the primary concern with Cloud platforms or software, security is perhaps the leading factor that should be considered. After all, you’ve worked hard to keep your network and sensitive data secure, how regrettable would it be to employ a new, helpful resource only to see it become the single point of vulnerability? This is an especially important question for file transfer software.
Because your data will likely be in the hands of a third party with a SaaS program (or at least in a third-party location), this area is especially sensitive. Ensure that the cloud provider has top-notch security and privacy measures in place. You’ll want to look at the tool from a security officer and compliance perspective. In addition to checking out the SaaS security measures, ensure the proper backup protocols are in place, and what contingency plans there are in the event of a breach on the provider side.
This factor is pretty straightforward, as all businesses usually know how to shop with a price – or more importantly, a budget – in mind. But the tricky part of shopping for SaaS products is the widely varying pricing structures. Because cloud-based tools don’t use the standard boxed software + license model, instead offering a service-based tool, you’ll be hard pressed to find any cut-and-dry pricing. The key concern in terms of cost when shopping for SaaS tools is to be laser focused on the compatibility of the software with your architecture and finding a precise match between your needs and the offerings and features of the program and the provider.
The features of the SaaS product lie at the very core of the entire endeavor of implementing project management software. Ultimately, the features will be the ‘proof in the pudding’ for any PM who is looking forward to a more productive (and hopefully easier) road ahead. Again, your primary focus is compatibility and how well the PM software syncs up with your needs and the company’s existing architecture.
Be vigilant about uncovering at features that competitors might overlook, such as collaborative benefits and channels for marketing your services and products more effectively. Most importantly, for service-level features relying on the provider, ensure they have a consequence for failing to deliver features as promised.
Interface / Usability
While features, price and security are all significant concerns when shopping for SaaS project management tools, nothing else about the software will matter if the interface is broken, incompatible or simply hard to use. Demo versions and free trials exist for this very reason, and they benefit both parties. The SaaS provider gets to show off their product and bring the selling points home in a practical environment while gaining a stronger rapport with a potential client. Better yet, you get to see how well it works. Take every opportunity to try out a software you’re interested in before you buy.
If possible, make sure that as many staffers at the office get a chance to take the tool for a spin (or at least those will most likely be using it). Do some comparative testing along the way. While one SaaS platform may stand out in terms of usability, there’s no way to know if there’s a far better tool unless you shop around and try out several of them.
By Clay Adams
- Posted on 1. September 2012 01:18
While the boundary between IT and the Cloud continues to blur, they are nevertheless complimentary to one another. Granted, the Cloud is becoming more influential in shaping the role of IT services in business, properly applied technology into a new Cloud environment can yield huge rewards for the enterprise that deploys these assets wisely. Cloud computing represents alternatives as well, acting as an email and FTP Replacement for document sharing, for example.
The shifting role of IT is becoming more visible as the corporate space adapts to Cloud computing technologies. It has slowly pulled away from ‘ownership’ and now falls more into a ‘management’ status. In other words, technology systems aren’t static operational resources anymore – they play a much larger role in acquisitions and growth, especially within the cloud.
No longer does a system administrator simply own and govern the IT infrastructure. Instead, the role is a managerial one, with many technology assets being leveraged for diverse internal support and external services. CIOs are now able to bolster IT as a value-add component of the business rather than a cost center, and that role has come to be expected of them. Furthermore, IT pros have a more dynamic position, tasked with strategically advising the business and blazing trails into new territories.
Because of the tremendous leaps ahead in automation and accessibility with the Cloud, technology professionals are liberated from time-sapping tasks that were previously performed manually. Instead, these IT admins can now focus on managing and building an array of versatile cloud services. The role of the tech leadership within the business space is changing much like the role of IT itself.
The assumption that IT personnel are being replaced by automation is a fallacy. These people are more important than ever, having been freed up to reach their full potential and serve as a crucial conduit between the Cloud, the company and its users. That’s not to say that these administrators no longer perform administrative functions. They are simply shifting the admin scope to a Cloud-minded role, responsible for governing the services and assets from a different angle and with more flexibility.
Adapting to new Cloud technologies and new infrastructures can indeed require an IT overhaul for most companies. The good news is that the migration process is less of a headache when the CIO and the executive leadership have a good understanding of shifting roles of IT personnel and the technology itself.
By Justin Culver
- Posted on 4. August 2012 01:45
Corporate migration to Cloud platforms is in full swing and many IT professionals are touting the advent of a new era in collaboration and computing. Consumer-focused services, most commonly those pertaining to online file storage and file sharing, have preceded the influx of business-oriented Cloud infrastructures almost as though they were a test market of sorts.
But making the jump from the typical business Cloud platform to the Enterprise level could prove a much larger leap, and evidence pointing to that challenge continues to surface. The next move is learning lessons from Cloud failures and overcoming the obstacles. Let’s take a look at some of the recent occurrences from which we can glean insight from the missteps of the pioneers in the front of the pack.
Dropbox Security Breach
This week, the consumer-focused Cloud service Dropbox lit up headlines across the web after enduring a significant security breach. Dropbox and a large swath of its users were subsequently hit with a massive spam attack. News reports indicate that an internal employee’s account was hacked, most likely using a stolen password.
The culprit allegedly stole a project document containing user email addresses from the compromised employee’s account. Thereafter, the hacker went to work spamming the users with a deluge of gambling website ads. After further investigation, technicians discovered that many of the affected users were using their Dropbox credentials on other websites – a common, albeit risky, practice that security proponents staunchly discourage.
The setback for Dropbox is especially disheartening for the company, as the firm’s focus has been largely aimed at the Enterprise space. Having successfully staked a claim to the file sharing market in the consumer realm, Dropbox has held strong confidence in its pursuit of the sought-after Enterprise space. Naysayers are coming out of the woodwork in droves with just the opposite message in mind.
Amazon and Netflix Outage
Back in late June, we posted the news story about Amazon’s EC2 Compute Cloud failures and the Netflix outage. Amazon’s EC2 system in Virginia went offline due to power outages caused by severe storms in the area. The outage knocked the Netflix service offline, frustrating the movie-streaming masses for a short time.
A couple of weeks prior to that event, the EC2 went down for about 7 hours – a near eternity in the perspective of ultra-speed ‘internet time’. Given the big scale brand that is Amazon, and the outspoken trumpeting of its Compute Cloud in previous months, the setback added insult to injury.
If only an isolated singular incident had occurred, the blowback wouldn’t put such a blemish on Enterprise Cloud concepts, but the fact that the outage was repeated sparks a concern.
Looking at these two big-brand blunders, many IT pros would declare the Cloud unfit for Enterprise use or in any manner that widens the service scope to massive scales. But every technology advancement has its pitfalls and failures. The take-away for anyone in the Cloud, whether vendor, consumer or business owner, is to learn from the mistakes and take a more proactive approach.
We recently published an article outlining the effectiveness of Managed Service Providers as a ‘fail-safe’ of sorts for common Cloud breakdowns. Preventative measures and hands-on maintenance under the supervision of technology professionals are key components to the contingency plan. Careful planning and documentation can further allay any emergent events.
Amazon’s lesson was squarely focused on redundancy. Most of us can agree that we aren’t likely to see another power outage cause such a crippling effect to Amazon’s EC2. That’s because they have taken preventative measures to insure against a similar crisis in the future. The luxury for those of us following the trail they blaze is that we enjoy the lesson without the consequence of the misstep.
The lesson Dropbox is learning is much different, and in many eyes more impactful because of the security concerns. Nevertheless, it’s a lesson just the same and avoiding similar occurrences in the future will come from reinforcing vulnerabilities found during the ‘learning process’. Given the significance of hot button issues like privacy, confidentiality and security these days, Cloud service providers will react with their own preventative measures gleaned from Dropbox’s disaster.
The enterprise space is still a viable target for the Cloud. The new technology provides more security and versatility, acting as an FTP replacement, an unprecedented collaborative tool and an infrastructure of accessibility to rival any before it. But at this point, for those of us still watching and learning, we could end up only having ourselves to blame for future failures if we don’t take advantage of the lessons unfolding at the front lines.
By Justin Culver
- Posted on 14. July 2012 02:42
As businesses blaze new technological trails into the future of corporate computing, Cloud-based systems are positioned at the forefront. We are quickly approaching a threshold at which Cloud computing transitions from an experimental concept to a fully integrated business resource. While some of the bigger players on the field have encountered pitfalls in Cloud computing, such as Amazon’s latest outage, the game is growing more approachable.
One of the problems with evaluation and visibility regarding a new platform like the Cloud is that there’s not much empirical evidence yet. Only after a period of testing, trials, application and evaluation would we really get a good feel for results and success rates – whether the news is good or bad. While we’ve only previously heard a huge amount of hype from proponents and vendors championing the Cloud as the end-all technology, there has been only scarce reports of real, actionable historical performance data. Until recently, it was assumed the lack of data was because it simply wasn’t available yet. But it’s time for a second look.
We’re now entering a time where we should be seeing quite a few reports, results and success stories from the Cloud computing space; not just from vendors but from businesses expecting returns from a Cloud platform in which they’ve invested significant time and money. However, there is still only a paltry volume of testimonials and documented successes. At this point, the reason is most likely because companies deploying Cloud platforms are considering their developments to be trade secrets and private, sensitive assets. You might occasionally run across an article or white paper touting a company’s success with a Cloud strategy, but you can count on the fact that there are thousands more that haven’t even been published.
You also won’t be seeing too much Cloud hype anymore. This is because the inherent value and flexibility of the Cloud is becoming more apparent to business owners and CIOs. Vendors and service providers will have to rely less and less on ‘educational’ marketing and ROI-focused hype in order to convert new adopters. This is also the phase where free trials turn into annual contracts, service providers go to work managing all the clients they reaped in the hype phase, and the attention is on the engine in your new car rather than the car salesman wooing you into it.
As the Cloud is also filling in voids of demand and problems needing solving, more businesses are becoming reliant – almost captivated – within the new infrastructure. Because of the added security, the Cloud represents an email and FTP replacement option that simultaneously improves productivity and efficiency while remedying drawbacks of the older, less effective and less secure platforms.
One of the natural barriers encountered in the shift toward Cloud computing has also been lifted recently; which is the ‘you go first’ mentality. Small businesses are reluctant to enter a space that even the behemoths of the land won’t venture into. Logically speaking, it makes sense to consider why such a universal enterprise space isn’t being pursued by the big players. But those fears have been quickly evaporating as technology titans like Google, HP, Amazon and Mircosoft enter the fray with committed strategies. That’s just one more obstacle removed from the path of a sweeping and swift movement.
Yet another indicator, which is clear and calculable regardless of reports and testimonials, is the money invested in Cloud computing. Cloud service providers and vendors are enjoying a steadily growing clientele and the profits are rising. Businesses are pouring more and more money into Cloud systems, which is often an uncontestable sign of the value of returns expected. A company contributes funds to the areas that stand to yield the greatest returns. The Cloud is clearly becoming one of the top contenders in that arena, and rightly so.
By Justin Culver
- Posted on 7. July 2012 02:42
We can safely agree that Cloud computing isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. On the contrary, the trend will grow swiftly as new adopters enter the fray on a daily basis. The boon of benefits surrounding Cloud platforms is simply too attractive to ignore. Among the perks are increased flexibility, lower costs and improved efficiency.
However, as e-tailer giant Amazon has recently exhibited – not once, but twice – in the past few weeks, the Cloud is not quiet yet failure-proof by any means. For an enterprise operating in the Cloud, the importance of stability extends not just throughout the business, but well into many of their clients’ businesses as well.
With so much riding on the solvency of the platform, Cloud failures are, in many perspectives, unacceptable. This is especially true considering that one of the Cloud’s biggest selling points is resilience and redundancy. Sadly, there has been plenty of downtime in the Cloud over the years.
How much downtime specifically? The International Working Group on Cloud Computing Resiliency has the answer. The IWGCR published a report last month detailing the severity of Cloud failures over the past 5 years.
Since 2007, 13 of the most prominent Cloud platforms have endured an estimated 568 hours of downtime according to the report. The estimated price tag for all of that downtime collectively sits at about $71.7 million. That’s a drain of a little over $2,000 per minute!
Few CEOs would willingly jump into a platform with such grossly detrimental downtime, which is abysmal compared to the typically desired 99.999% uptime expectations. The sobering data from the IWGCR report represents a decided and desperate need for quickly actionable solutions.
The problem isn’t an absence of solutions, but rather a minor disconnect between a new architecture (The Cloud) and a time-tested resource by which many of the Cloud failures could have been prevented: A managed IT services partnership.
As more enterprises build more sophisticated Cloud systems, capable of more than the early-adopter applications such as secure file sharing, the stakes go up and the need for IT support grows exponentially.
Most CIOs are well aware of the maintenance, management and contingency planning required to run a successful and stable Cloud infrastructure. Furthermore; the larger the system is, the greater the need for IT management.
In response to the increased demand for Cloud support, many IT providers are developing strategies to aid companies – both in the migration process and beyond – to bolster a platform unexpectedly plagued by what amounts to unacceptable downtime. Smart CEOs will take advantage of the safety net, as the savings from outsourcing IT is sure to outweigh the $35-per-second losses attributed to the Cloud’s poor track record thus far.
By Justin Culver
- Posted on 30. June 2012 07:04
The buzz in the tech arena recently has included a sizable dose of Cloud computing topics. While we’ve progressed well past a conceptual perspective, the Cloud remains an interesting topic and a hotbed of speculation and progressive thinking.
The spotlight at the center of the discussion shifts almost daily as a fervor of competition and development herald a bustling digital revolution. Cloud service vendors stand to reap a bountiful harvest as more adopters emerge in the corporate space. But from a high level view, the current Cloud marketplace represents a threshold still unconquered despite years of growth.
I came across an article on GigaOm recently that was not unlike cracking open a virtual time capsule and peering into the Cloud as a fledgling concept. In the article, author Gary Orenstein analogized the Cloud marketplace as a ‘three-horse race’, where each “horse” is one of the key Cloud service offerings: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS).
While Orenstein’s descriptions and postulations about each service and the merits of their application for business make sense, the true takeaway was his prediction that the next progressive step would be “Undoubtedly, a combination of all three deployment models.” That was more than 3 years ago.
Yet few have managed to attain the perfect ‘Triple Crown’ of successfully and efficiently offering solutions that compile the treasured triad into one neat package. (Or perhaps we’re not looking hard enough.)
On the contrary, the news of the day involves big players marketing aggressively with a single-channel focus, a trend well exemplified by Network World’s recent piece about four household-name heavyweights jumping into the PaaS arena. Google has been snagging plenty of headlines of its own lately too.
For those keeping score, the evolution of the Cloud marketplace might have proven a little tough to keep up with. Despite predictions and anticipations from 2+ years ago that combining services would not only be the brass ring on the Cloud vendor carousel, but also the natural denouement for an evolving marketplace. So which is better? Time will tell.
But there is still little doubt that building the perfect ‘Triple Crown’ Cloud offering would benefit Cloud-bound businesses greatly, and earn a tidy fortune for the vendor. However, such a model may never exist – at least not as it’s been previously conceived.
The secret is that it’s not really a “Triple” Crown. For a vendor to execute the marketing, distribution and delivery of IaaS, PaaS and SaaS services concurrently, at least one additional critical component must bolster the bundle together: An internally-grounded core infrastructure with a broad scope of support. Think about it this way: Even if you had three hands in all, none would do you a bit of good if you had no backbone.
There is one caveat that seems to have been only scarcely discussed, and which could create a barrier to global tech titans from being able to offer up the ultimate Cloud combo: Location, Location, Location.
Thoughts of the Cloud computing space conjure up images of a largely atmospheric environment, free of the constraints of the physical world. But the reality is less liberating, as proximity between vendor and client becomes increasingly important.
Successful Cloud marketplace competitors will be those who recognize and adapt to these subtle secrets. Our very own Burrtech Corporation, (the IT enterprise which helped develop eTransmittal into such a standout document management tool), represents this ambitious pursuit with a sound support strategy and local-focused IT management. No strategy is perfect, but we all know that every great formula has a few secret ingredients.
By Justin Culver
- Posted on 24. June 2012 02:13
How Contractors are netting huge rewards by putting their money where the Cloud is
Back in February, our feature article, “The Secret to Pushing Green Building into the Mainstream” focused on concepts that could improve the adoption rate of Sustainability measures among A/E/C (Architecture/Engineering/Construction) firms. Only a few months have passed, and the trend is catching on like wildfire.
The ‘Secret’ article highlighted the importance of support-based vendors and contractors promoting value in their green-minded offerings. As it turns out, A/E/C firms are quickly discovering that value (and then some) as they internalize green practices – and not without the help of at least one eco-friendly ally in the building industry: ABC Green.
Both the ambitious efforts of ABC and the swiftly growing community of A/E/C businesses pursuing ABC’s Green Contractor Certification program serve to reinforce proof of promising progress resultant from establishing value in green practices.
It appears as though the barrier of justifying investments in sustainability products and policies is rapidly dissipating. Perhaps the most significant evidence to such a claim is the fact that contractors are committing to the cause like never before, by implementing intensive internal sustainability overhauls.
The requirements for companies wishing to net ABC’s prestigious Green Contractor Certificate represent a direct influence within the applicant’s own internal operations – it’s no longer about applying green standards just at the jobsite, and rightly so.
While the program isn’t a newborn (it was established in 2009), we are now entering a period of maturity for the early adopters, as the initial application covers a three-year period. The vastly superior advantages of infusing sustainability measures into the core business, rather than only serving them ‘ala carte’ on projects are now becoming strikingly apparent to those initial applicants such as Oklahoma-based Flintco Constructive Solutions.
We exemplified this type of low-hanging fruit in the form of implementing green-minded measures in our February article by pointing out the bevy of benefits relating to online document management and archiving, including our very own Software as a Service product, eTransmittal.
But there is growing consensus to those benefits elsewhere. Not only does ABC list such requisites for their Green Contractor Certificate as establishing “a policy for archiving documents electronically”, but companies like Flintco are heralding the money- and time-saving returns of implementing cloud-based document management.
An article published this month in Construction Executive magazine entitled “Green From the Inside Out” featured details surrounding Flintco’s three-year venture to internalize their sustainability efforts in line with the ABC Green Contractor Certification requisites.
Cited as one of Flintco’s “biggest operational game-changers resulting from certification” was their new policy governing electronic document storage and submittals. According to the article, the company “no longer runs projects with paper-based documentation, instead relying on digital solutions for three-quarters of its work.”
The list of benefits Flintco touts simply from switching to electronic document management represents an astounding return on investment. Among the rewards realized over the certification period: Postage and shipping cost savings in the hundreds of thousands, flexibility to accelerate project schedules, and the re-positioning of personnel away from paper creation and storage and over to more valuable roles such as quality assurance.
While specific case studies like Flintco carry significant weight, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps one of the most important, albeit subtle, take-aways from such a story isn’t just an encouragement to implement electronic document management, but a rally cry to implement it now. With six-figure savings on the horizon in as little as three years, we doubt too many contractors will be waiting much longer.
By Justin Culver
- Posted on 16. June 2012 00:54
IT departments might just want to install revolving doors on their conference rooms across the country as the towering tide of technological tools continues to swell. With no shortage of new devices, services and myriad other digital delights on the horizon, it’s hard to be too selective in pinpointing those that would prove most beneficial for your business.
These five top tech tools, representing our own ‘highlight reel’ of sorts, are perhaps the most significant stand-outs in the realm of new business gadgetry:
Popularity and adoption rates for the virtual environment affectionately known as “The Cloud” are steadily growing. Standing out as a pinnacle of utility in the enterprise space, The Cloud represents a cost-savings opportunity while providing tremendous scalability, flexibility and efficiency. Many SaaS (software as a service) products, secure file sharing tools, web applications and other online services are rooted in the Cloud. Accessibility from anywhere and collaborative benefits are also among the perks enjoyed by those migrating to cloud computing.
The advent of the iPad is perhaps the most notable milestone ushering in the Tablet computing era. Since then, many competitors have entered the market and we’re seeing more and more sophisticated versions of iPads and the other dreamy digital devices that still manage to possess that sharpness and ‘wow’ factor that bolstered their impressiveness at first launch. Incredible versatility, coupled with portability and ease of use are the strong-suits of this device.
Where would all our tablets and smartphones be today without App stores? We’re all familiar with the massive and diverse array of applications, ranging from games to photo editing software and millions more. With such a swift and streamlined integration to our favorite touchscreen devices, App shops have also become a buzzing bazaar for business. The enterprise-level tools available on App stores are becoming more and more sophisticated and approachable, not to mention cost-efficient as fierce competition keeps prices consistently low.
While App stores themselves are key components of today’s technology tools (along with the wares being peddled therein), the mobile computing space is a much bigger animal. More so today than ever, businesses are seeking mobile integration for applications, software tools, online services and their own IT architecture. Implementing this type of versatility with assets that were previously just fine in a stationary PC computing environment is quickly becoming less of a luxury and more of a necessity.
The process of collecting and analyzing data has changed little at the base level throughout the history of modern business, but the escalation in our ability to glean actionable info from this type of analysis has increased exponentially in the past few years. While many powerful new analytical tools exist that can peer into the heart of almost any campaign, tracking report or gobs of marketing research, perhaps the most important advent is integration with business platforms. Analytical tools that are specifically tailored to certain enterprise services and applications are now frequently built directly into the software itself. This melding of marketing mechanics creates an entirely new competitive atmosphere that balances every business’ strengths in market visibility…or at least those early adopters of the new technology.
By Justin Culver
- Posted on 4. June 2012 19:30
The Cloud is a massive new frontier for business as well as technology. Although the virtual space empowers companies with new tools, resources, scalability, security and myriad other benefits; it can quickly become more expensive than initially expected if not handled properly.
Taking a few proactive steps at the outset can help minimize unexpected costs and avoid unforeseen money drains while setting your company up to get the most out of the new platform. These four tips below should be on the top of the Cloud migration ‘to-do’ list:
Proper Procedure and Documentation
Establishing clear, repeatable and scalable procedures, protocols and documentation right at the beginning will streamline your migration while creating a case study for the big move. Proper process can significantly reduce the margin of error and mitigate wastefulness in all matters of engaging a new platform for your business.
This is also an opportunity to establish visibility and set up the teams and designations of who does what and how things work. Documentation is another important piece of this puzzle, as you’ll benefit greatly from taking detailed notes every step of the way and applying what you’ve learned.
Tools Are Your Friend
The Cloud is awash with all sorts of cool tools, many of which are approachable in price, or even free in many cases. Taking advantage of these resources will not only hasten your pace in the competitive space, but also help you to effectively leverage your upgraded assets and visualize and react optimally within the new environment.
Because the Cloud is all about collaboration and interaction with multiple parties, you’ll want to employ tools with monitoring and alert functionality to maintain the utmost visibility on your systems. Balancing usage vs allocation will also become a key issue that is well remedied with the right software.
Proper IT support
Perhaps one of the gravest mistakes a company can make is diving into the Cloud without the proper technology support – namely your core IT team. Not only is this type of change a very intensive technical undertaking requiring the expertise of a tech professional, you’ll need ongoing support in the form of a savvy human (help guides and online resources only go so far).
Whether you employ an IT crew in-house or you’ve hired an outsourced IT Consulting firm, the goals and applications will be the same: Bolstering sound support from beginning to end. It is especially ideal to work with the same IT team from the development phase and indefinitely as long as your company is growing in the Cloud.
Your new platform in the Cloud will ease the pressures of many IT roles and maintenance issues, but only to a marginal degree at the outset. You can grow your resources and infrastructure to make things easier to manage as you move forward as well. But despite these benefits, you’ll never end up in the position where abandoning dedicated management is an option.
You should have someone in place in a designated leadership role governing the Cloud operations and the existing technological assets built into the firm’s architecture. That individual can play a consulting role and should be a comfortable decision-maker for the migration as well as changes down the road. They can help establish and maintain an audit trail, and dictate the governance of all things Cloud. This position is extremely critical and should be in place before the jump to the Cloud even gets off the ground.