In this high technology world, it seems like every day, maybe even every hour, there’s some new and innovative product. In the beginning there were mainframes to hold all the data, then each company got their own servers to hold all there information. But now, one of the newest buzz words in the field of computer storage is cloud computing.
Accessing Your Data From Anywhere
A cloud is a metaphor for the Internet and means that the information for businesses or even individuals store all their data in one place online and the clouds are access points for this data. But to be able to do this, you need a provider to give you the cyber storage space for your data. This way your data is safe and the provider you choose takes care of not only your information, but also the infrastructure to hold it. The advantage is that they take care of that storage and you pay them to access it. Any user who has access to the cloud connection is that they can get to the data from anywhere as long as they have Internet access.
Thus, the user saves money by not having to pay for the upkeep of the infrastructure and the provider can spread out the cost through all the users, so everyone gets the benefits.
Choosing Your Provider: The Types
But to get the best advantage, you need to make a good choice in the provider you pick. In order to do this, you have to choose between three types of services:
Software as a Service (SaaS)
SaaS is a service where users can access the whole software program via the cloud. This frees the business from having to pay for a license, or do the upkeep, etc for a program your business needs. They just give their users a password and they hook to the program via the cloud computing applications they have on their end. Make sure your provider has an easy to understand and easy to access way to connect to this software so your workers will understand it and be able to do your work. If you are getting software from them, make sure they update it regularly and are going to provide your team with the proper training so they can use it properly and efficiently.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
IaaS is for a business that has other needs that are more specific, and it is when instead of installing and having to do your own maintenance on the infrastructure, you can rent it at much lower prices and then build your solution on that piece that you are renting.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
PaaS is similar to IaaS, but it means that you rent the platform, not the raw hardware. This means the business doesn’t have to worry about the computers, etc, because the cloud owner maintains them. In this version, you just have to be concerned with the software issues and how to get the job done.
Key Principles in Seeking a Cloud Provider
So, there are several key principles in seeking a cloud provider. A good provider must be user-friendly, well-funded, and you have to be able to understand what your business is ultimately trying to accomplish and how you want to do that before you pick that cloud provider.
So, first you need to do some checking on the cloud providers that are on your potential list of companies to pick from. Make sure it is a well-known group with lots of experience and one that isn’t likely to lose all its money and go out of business in a few months. Be sure to ask the right financial questions and do some checking on their customers. Ask for references and be sure to check them out.
Next, you need to actually go and inspect the provider’s data center and see how good their security is, how well they will protect their privacy, and how reliable they seem to be. Make sure you know something about the people who run the company, its manager, etc. For one thing, they should be willing to listen to their customers and want to provide the best possible service.
Once you actually choose a provider, you have to get a standard level agreement or SLA with them. Be sure that you have a properly negotiated SLA before letting your provider handle your systems, software or other critical data.
Make sure that your contract provides for proper customer support. All this should be spelled out in your SLA. Make sure that you and your provider understand what they will be providing and that they actually provide it.
Billing and Accounting
Be sure there is a way for you to keep track of the services you use and know exactly how you are being charged for it. Your provider should give you a way to track your usage and give you the full list of how they charge and what your average cost will be each month based on estimated usage.
All in all, cloud computing is the way to go in this high tech world. If you do your homework and check out the potential provider’s background, finances, customer service record, security, software requirements, and how they can help your business accomplish its mission. Once you do these things, you will know how to choose the cloud computing provider that is best suited to your business. Happy Computing!