Choosing to Work In a Cloud Environment

‘In the Cloud’ is something we hear all the time. There are public clouds and private clouds, and they’re different.

In Part I, we talked about the Public Cloud, what it is, how it works, and the pro’s and con’s of using the Public Cloud for business needs. What about the Private Cloud?

A Private Cloud is a great solution for a multi-location veterinarian clinic, or a multi-location church that has its servers, backups, and infrastructure centrally located (one location). Many (if not all) users access the network, software, printers, security cameras, and on-premise software through Remote Desktop Services or an internet browser. All users authenticate through the network’s Active Directory (AD) and all security is handled by the network administrator(s).

Another example is a company with no central office; perhaps everyone works remotely. If the server is hosted in the cloud, all parties can access the server which can be centrally backed up. In a private cloud solution, you have a lot more flexibility about security, control over software upgrades, and backup options. Most private cloud solutions provide a flat monthly amount for the resources and licensing, allowing you to pay for what you need, when you need it. These agreements may include local equipment and support, or only the hosted server(s).

Advantages start by trading the replacement cost of aging equipment, equipment maintenance, network software and licensing, all for a monthly fee to use what you need.  This is a great way to avoid large purchases and amortization, and avoid future hardware upgrades. When business-specific software has a new release, you can choose when/if to upgrade, allowing you to plan ahead for staff training and roll out. Even local computers can be less expensive since they only serve as a gateway to access the hosted server. If you don’t need Office Word and Excel on the local computer, you may even lower your cost for software on these local devices.

There’s a flip-side to this option, as well. You still need that internet connection, so your local Internet Service Provider (ISP) up-time and speeds become a big deal. If you’re on the road, everything is accessible, but you’re still at the mercy of the ISP where you are.

Your business-critical information is not under your control. Does your IT Company have control of the equipment and services where your hosted server resides? This is where a trusted IT company becomes so important, and you want a company, not a one-man show. It’s important that your solution provider is reputable, pays their bills on time, and has integrity in their business dealings – this is your company’s data, your livelihood! What backups do they have in place? What security is in place? How quickly can they respond? Is there redundancy built into their services in case power goes out or the ISP goes down? What about a natural disaster; how will you get to your server?

There are cultural differences, too. If you’re working on a cloud server, you may have to stream music over the local computer rather than the cloud connection; printer choices may be limited or slower than you’re used to; policies about saving documents locally may need to change to be sure they’re backed up and accessible to others. Your staff will have new things to learn such as how to extend a desktop across multiple screens, or how to recognize if you’re on the cloud server or the local desktop.

Lastly, it’s not really a ‘cloud.’ Everything we’ve been talking about runs on hardware, requires software, needs power, and has to have internet access. If you need assistance, give us a call – 630-850-9039!  – CMW