Cloud Computing (Part 2) : Key Players, Recommendations and Considerations

by Jim Berkowitz on December 1, 2009

Here is Part 2 of a 2 part blog series on cloud computing; Part 1 can be found here.  The source of the excerpts included in this blog post is a Whitepaper from Sungard Availability Services, Cloud Computing: Resiliency is the Key to Success:

Key players

There are numerous companies targeting the emerging cloud computing market, but currently the main contenders appear to be:

  • Amazon
  • Google
  • Microsoft
  • Salesforce.com
  • SunGard Availability Services

Recommendations for moving forward with cloud computing

Cloud computing, although still young, has now reached a stage where all organizations should be considering the technology, assessing whether the cost savings, efficiencies and resiliency advantages which can be realised. After going through this process SunGard believes that most organizations will come to the conclusion that the time is now right to start to implement cloud computing. At this stage the following recommendations should be considered…

  • Learn lessons from early adopters
  • Keep an eye on emerging standards
  • Proceed systematically
  • Ensure resilience

Considerations for choosing a cloud computing provider

For many organizations it will prove cost effective to use an external cloud computing provider for at least some applications. The following checklist covers some of the things that an organization needs to consider before deciding to sign-up with a cloud computing provider:

Does the service you’re looking to contract into meet the business availability need? What information can the provider give about historical and recent service availability? What investment has the provider made in resilience and high availability?

What service level agreements does the provider offer? What compensation is given if the service is lost? Remember this will be a service credit and will not cover consequential loss.

Does the service need to comply with any regulatory obligations? Where will your data reside and if, for example, that will be outside of your operational markets, is that acceptable?

Does the service meet and exceed the requirements of the organizational IT / data security policies? Or does it fall short?

Where is the data actually stored and who has access to the data? What happens to the data when it is finished with? How is it archived for regulatory requirements? How can archives be accessed? How is the data finally destroyed?

‘Cost today’ is important but businesses also need to consider ‘cost tomorrow’ in the decision making process Agility, flexibility, strategy, etc will all have a say in the final decision but you need a baseline to work from. How is the agreement structured? Can the provider change the cost of the service to you? If so, what notice period is there?

Conclusion

Cloud computing is not a revolutionary new idea; instead it is an evolutionary concept which brings together strands from various existing technologies to offer a useful new IT provisioning tool. However, it is absolutely vital that resiliency is at the heart of the cloud computing infrastructure and that investment is made in availability and continuity. Due diligence in this area is important. If the wrong cloud supplier is chosen then IT service continuity will be at risk. Resiliency truly is the key to success in this area.

Cloud computing is now emerging from its early adopter stage and many of the difficult implementation lessons have been learned. The advantages are clear, with the main ones being resiliency, efficiency, scalability, flexibility and easier outsourcing. Cloud computing genuinely does have the potential to radically change the way organizations purchase, manage and provide computing resources to their employees.

Organizations should now be evaluating how and where they can benefit from transferring systems and applications over to a cloud computing environment. Making the most of cloud computing opportunity will enable your IT systems to be more efficient and cost effective; in turn helping to make your business more profitable.

The time to gain competitive advantage from cloud computing is now. Now is the time to establish where your opportunities may lie…

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