Wednesday, July 25, 2012
As the benefits of cloud computing continue to emerge, more companies are making room in their IT budgets for hosted services and launching pilot programs to determine how they can benefit from the technology. In doing so, decision-makers need to know they are deploying robust services that carry with them added value and productivity gains for employees accessing and using them.
According to a recent CIO magazine report, there are several areas that decision-makers should address when exploring the services of various vendors. That way, the company will know all it needs to about the service, how it will impact operations and the advantages it will bring.
Here are some of the areas highlighted in the CIO report:
Uptime and downtime
When uploading files to the cloud, companies need to be assured the information will be available as much as possible. There's little sense in migrating a mission-critical document that's used every day if downtime doesn't allow employees to access it whenever it's needed.
But every cloud service provider will have its own definitions of both uptime and downtime. By finding out the meanings behind these terms, a company can know that a vendor's services are able to meet business needs.
Even cloud vendors can suffer mishaps or face the implications of IT disasters, both man-made and natural. So before entrusting digital content to a cloud storage provider, CIO recommended, the company should determine what measures are taken to protect information during a crisis and recover it when the dust has settled.
"An event of force majeure can allow a vendor to get out of commitments, including SLAs," Kevin Taylor, a legal cloud expert, told the news provider. "Customers should negotiate a narrow definition of force majeure."
This can be answered with simple questions, or if the company wants to be more diligent, a visit to the vendor to determine the effectiveness of disaster measures. The latter may seem extreme, but companies can't be too careful when it comes to the digital information that's needed for operations.
Also in terms of disaster preparedness, a company should ensure a vendor tests its plan and strategy often. Threats to data are constantly emerging and evolving, and a vendor needs to keep up with the latest trends to ensure companies' information is safe and protected.
Keep an eye on the future
There's a reason the saying "all good things come to an end" is so widely known. In terms of the relationship between a company and a file sharing vendor, no matter how good it is there's a chance it will someday come to an end. When that happens, a company can't be left wondering about the information it has stored on the vendor's servers.
According to CIO, cloud customers should insist on retaining some control over their data, whether to move it around or pull it out completely if the service is not meeting pre-determined agreements.
Cloud adoption pushes onward
Numerous reports have highlighted the continued growth expected for the cloud computing market now and in the future. In late 2011, research firm IDC revealed its prediction that 24 percent of all new business software purchased in 2015 will be hosted in the cloud.
Also by that time, spending on Software-as-a-Service will encompass about 13 percent of all solutions investments. Similarly, 14 percent of spending on applications will be focused on SaaS.
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