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DON’T GET LEFT OUT OF THE CLOUD REVOLUTION

For many companies, cloud computing might seem like a daunting prospect, the sort of revolutionary technology that only global leaders need to invest in.  But in fact the opposite is true; the time, money and energy that can be saved through cloud computing is something that everyone should be taking advantage of.

Graeme Gordon IFB
Graeme Gordon IFB

First things first, what is cloud computing? Basically, cloud computing is a virtual platform which allows companies to access their data: anytime, anywhere. Safely stored in the Cloud, company data is accessible for employees, enabling flexible working, enhancing efficiency and reducing costs. At the same time, data is highly secure, protected from any virtual or physical attacks. To make it a hat trick of benefits, Cloud computing connects colleagues globally ensuring uniformity.

Graeme Gordon, CEO of Internet for Business (IFB) says, “In addition to the environmental benefits, Cloud computing has been seen to enhance efficiency and reduce costs. The technology can also help companies who continue to grow, by acting as a platform to increasing amounts of data and enabling instant access to data.

“By improving the integration and standardisation of IT operations, Cloud computing can give companies the upper hand over their competitors. By connecting groups across the world, information can be shared instantly and as interaction between employees grows, Cloud computing can help develop a loyal unit.

“The ability to communicate with customers is crucial to any business. Cloud computing will protect company data during practical disasters such as a fire in an office building. In the bigger picture, Cloud computing can transform a company into a highly responsive, highly connected corporation. “

The benefits are clear, but just what can Cloud computing do for you? Graeme Gordon recalls some of the frequently asked questions he gets when companies consider making the transition from traditional to Cloud:

Reduce CAPEX

Businesses can save on capital expenditure, by moving their IT costs to an operational cost.  This means that you do not have to invest capital in new server equipment.  Server hardware costs are  also eliminated –  taking out the purchase, security, power, cooling, maintenance and hardware refresh costs.

Cloud-based software can help lower costs, in some cases by a significant amount. The technology is easy to access and use and can offer long term savings through efficiencies, elasticity and economics.   According to the International Data Corporation, almost every SME that uses Cloud services saves money, with most lowering costs between 10% and 20%.

Easy to use and manage

Companies can confidently move their business systems and applications to the Cloud. Cloud providers will manage underpinning technologies, securities, infrastructure and operations.  The cloud takes away the responsibility of maintaining server equipment, as that responsibility now lies with the Cloud provider.

In order to minimise the threat of data loss, look for a provider with two cloud platforms, one as an active platform and one as a failover site. The recovery site is an exact replica of the primary site in every manner, so if for any reason the entire primary site would fail, all data is replicated on the failover site.

All data is replicated in real-time to a standby site.  Entire servers are also backed up on a daily basis to IFB’s Backup and Recovery service offering 365 days of data retention. This ensures no data can be lost or misplaced.

Reduce environmental footprint

As research has found, companies can use up to 90% less energy when moving to cloud. If you are becoming increasingly conscious of your environmental footprint, you need to consider making the move too.

Since the early 90’s power costs in the UK have risen by an estimated 150% and another 40-50% in the next 5 years (Gartner).  Therefore the cost of managing, cooling and powering data stored in-house has been increasing and is set to increase over the next 5 years.

  • Studies have shown that companies can reduce their emissions by 50% by moving to the cloud
  • If data is stored on the cloud and not on-site – it reduces office building power capacity and usage.
  • Cloud is a shared platform, which uses less power than a traditional rack space.

More space- with room to grow

Over 90% of the world’s data has been created in the past 2 years and there will be a 900% increase in data generation over the next 5 years (Gartner).  Therefore, the cloud allows for a flexible platform, where additional capacity can be added more easily and quickly in comparison to traditional server racks.

The Cloud allows you to scale up without having to invest in new hardware.  This can be done in a matter of minutes on the cloud, in comparison to purchasing new hardware, which has lead times of up to four weeks. As an example, a customer upgraded from Window’s 2003 – to Window’s 2008 when moving from traditional hosted rack to the Cloud.  Such upgrades will be maintained by provider on an on-going basis without the upgrade cost.

The benefits are clear, but just how easy is it to upgrade companies to Cloud computing? Graeme Gordon recalls some of the frequently asked questions he gets when companies consider making the transition from traditional to Cloud:

How long does it take to transfer companies from the traditional network to cloud?

When moving to cloud, everything from the length of time it takes to the cost, is unique to each company. Companies which have older systems and are on the traditional hosted server will have to have their servers virtualised prior to them moving to cloud. Companies who have newer systems may already be virtualised which allows data to be moved to the cloud within hours.

To be more specific, the following are examples of factors which influence the time it takes to transfer existing IT infrastructures to cloud based services:

  • The amount of data and number of services/apps that needs to relocated from local to cloud based services
  • The speed and quality of the existing internet connection
  • What the client would like moved to cloud storage

Ask your potential provider for an estimated time as per your requirements. As with any major IT infrastructure change, there will be a little disruption but all reputable providers should liaise with customers to arrange a planned approach for the changeover.

Can workers still access data while it is being transferred?

This depends on the nature of the data being accessed and the method of transference to the cloud service that is going to be used. Live data that is continually updated may involve some interruption of access while being transferred. Reference data that is static can be transferred while being used by end user.

How does Cloud computing ensure that the virtual platform isn’t hacked? How it my data protected?

Cloud technology is one of the most secure, safe and resilient platforms for data.  Look for a provider whose cloud technology is built using IBM server and storage infrastructure and where VMware is used as virtualisation environment management software.   Backup & recovery service, which is provided with all cloud packages, work best with Quantum hardware and Commvault software.  Cisco equipment is essential for networks to ensure all parts of the cloud platform are built to provide a resilient and secure environment.

In order to minimise the threat of data loss, look for a provider with two cloud platforms, one as an active platform and one as a failover site. The recovery site is an exact replica of the primary site in every manner, so if for any reason the entire primary site would fail, all data is replicated on the failover site.

How many devices can you have connected and working on Cloud at any one time?

While there is no restriction to the number of devices that can access cloud based services, there can be limitations imposed by the cloud service being used. These limitations can be because of compute/bandwidth/application resource limits that are being provisioned as part of a cloud solution. Check with your provider before you sign up.

IFB, founded in 1996, is a leading Internet Service Provider (ISP) and provides ICT infrastructure for businesses across the UK.  IFB provides cloud, connectivity, hosting, telecoms, back-up & recovery and work place recovery for our business customers through national, multi-Gbit/s network that links our Aberdeen, Edinburgh and London points of presence.  IFB can be contacted on 0845 270 2101 or geton@ifb.net. More about the company can be found at www.ifb.net.

CEO Graeme Gordon has been building and developing IFB for over sixteen years and he’s a Director with Scotland IS- the trade body for the information and communications technologies (ICT) industry, representing around 200 software, telecomms, IT and creative technologies businesses throughout Scotland.

IFB can be contacted on 0845 270 2101 or geton@ifb.net. More about the company can be found at www.ifb.net.

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