Not everything belongs in the cloud. Before moving your business data and applications to a cloud provider you need to ask yourself all the economic and business reasons for that move. If there is no substantial reason to do it, don’t move it. CIOs need to do their homework to determine where every application or piece of data belongs: in the datacenter, a public cloud, or a private cloud.
Of course there is no easy answer to those questions, and IT executives, as well as CFOs, are trying to make sense of the advantages of cloud computing, both from the technical and financial aspects.
If you are concerned about security, the easy answer is to keep everything locked in your own datacenter, but you’ll miss all the advantages of scale, accessibility, and flexibility of a cloud service. If cost is paramount, a flexible contract with a cloud provider could save millions to a midsized organization.
I believe there are different approaches for every situation, and many organizations find themselves using a mixture of solutions based on the data and applications they use. The main considerations include…
- Security: Critical applications that can affect the daily operations need to be secured in-house. A bank cannot allow its main online processing system to run in an external service.
- Privacy: New regulations are appearing in most Western countries, requiring protection of personal data and limiting the amount of information companies can hold about customers, employees, and others. It is important to consider the possibility to encrypt such data before storing it in a cloud service.
- Disaster recovery: In an ideal environment, the hardware configuration of the backup system for disaster recovery should mirror the primary system. In the real world, however, this is an expensive solution, so corporations and IT departments are forced to prioritize and look for more flexible solutions. Virtualization allows configurations to vary between the primary and the disaster recovery sites, but it is important to consider the implications of mirroring in the cloud.
- Country-specific regulations: Many European countries do not allow storing any private data outside their borders, thus forcing many businesses to rely on local datacenters, or on their own private clouds, to conduct their business.
- Load balancing: Enables IT to achieve even greater fault tolerance, automatically providing the amount of capacity needed in response to an increase or decrease in application traffic. It is important to test and determine the load balancing requirements of the applications to see if they perform adequately within your cloud service.
- Messaging: Using the cloud for email and messaging services can take away the problems of supporting all the new mobile devices, since most cloud-based messaging applications support all important platforms. However, it is necessary to determine the security requirements and the amount of time messages are stored to avoid data breaches.
Proper planning is necessary, and evaluating different solutions is the best approach. Decision-making should involve all parts of the organization.