Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Flint Brenton, Elizabeth White, Cameron Van Orman

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Microsoft Cloud, Open Source Cloud, Agile Computing

@CloudExpo: Article

Transitioning to the Cloud

Critical questions to ask when choosing a cloud provider

In the first quarter of 2012, FEMA reported 12 natural disasters throughout the country, including tornadoes, flooding, mudslides and severe storms from Florida to Alaska. The threats to your data are limitless - natural disasters, fires, water damage, equipment theft and hardware failure to name just a few. In the event of a disaster, if you don't have access to an offsite copy of your data, or if you are unable to replicate it, the chances are it will be gone forever.

Deciding on the Right Provider Should Be No Different Than Buying a Car
Many businesses are opting to move their data to the cloud, citing benefits in time savings/automation, cost, security and access; however, some SMBs still maintain reservations about keeping their valuable data offsite and beyond their control. A recent Information Week Report indicated that only 23 percent of business technology professionals use cloud computing services as part of their application and data recovery strategies. Many others are confused by the number of online cloud backup companies and "free storage" offerings that are flooding the market; while others are concerned about those data storage companies who have proven to be "fly-by-night" entities that are here today, gone tomorrow.

Choosing a backup provider should be no different than shopping for another major purchase. With so many storage options to choose from, selecting an online cloud backup solution can be overwhelming, but that doesn't need to be the case. Take it for a test drive, know the technology behind the offering and choose a company that has a sustainable business model, a proven track record and a stellar support staff within your organizational budget.

Cloud Storage vs. Cloud Backup
Apple's iCloud, Google's Drive and DropBox are examples of storage options that provide the business user with "free" storage for easy sharing of documents, photos and videos. However, these options and many others are not backup options. Cloud storage providers do just that, they provide you with a place to store your stuff. However, there is no guarantee, questionable security, no tech support and if a server goes down in one of their data centers, you may never see those documents again. Would you keep your important documents or jewels in a bus station locker? Of course not. These are great ways to share documents among friends and family and for a quick way to share a document among a team of people, for short periods of time; however, it isn't the place to backup your business-critical applications and documents.

Cloud backup should provide you with the ability to automatically backup your applications such as Word, Outlook, Photoshop, QuickBooks and their associated data files (pictures, documents, spreadsheets, financials and the ever important Outlook .PST files) to an offsite server or data center.

Top Six Research Questions When Moving to the Cloud
When shopping for a cloud backup solution, creating a comparative spreadsheet will help you to keep track of your different options. After all, your company data is the lifeblood of your business. These key questions should help you in making an informed decision.

1. How long has the cloud vendor been in business? Whose technology are they using?
As with any trending technology, there are many fly-by-night companies that promise the moon and fail to deliver. How long has the cloud provider been in business? Do they have references or case studies for review? Do they license somebody else's software or is it their own? Research competing software reviews and compare and contrast the feedback.

2. What security measures are in place to protect my data?
Just because an application runs in your office, doesn't mean it's secure. The question is what security measures and controls does the cloud service provider have in place.

  • Is its datacenter SSAE 16 certified?
  • Is its web portal scanned daily by a seal provider (e.g., McAfee)
  • How is the data encrypted?
  • Is there a master key and who has access to this master key?

All these are questions technical evaluators should ask when assessing cloud service options. Chances are that serious cloud application providers will be substantially more secure than any SMB could afford to implement internally.

3. Does the cloud provider offer both onsite and offsite protection?
The ideal cloud backup solution should provide you with an unlimited option to backup to a local server for immediate access to restore application files (Word/Outlook/QuickBooks) quickly and efficiently. It should also provide you with the option to back up your data (documents/spreadsheets/financials) to the cloud (an offsite server or data center.)

4. Are there affordable solutions for my business in this economy?
Absolutely. In this economy, SMBs should be very careful when making large purchases for hardware or software. Monthly pay-as-you go options have less risk attached to them and are offered by reputable online backup providers and should be strongly considered. If in doubt, do a three-year total cost of ownership analysis.

5. What are some of the most significant benefits cloud services bring to SMBs?
When evaluating a move to the cloud, SMBs should consider the advantages. Cloud backup and data recovery solutions don't require the purchase of internal hardware, alleviating capital cost expenditures. In addition, the technology has advanced to such a level today that small software tools can be downloaded to company machines that are user-friendly and easy to manage, keeping internal IT staff costs to a minimum.

6. What is unlimited backup, do I need it and is it real?
Today, many vendors who have offered unlimited backup have either stopped providing it or have a host of limitations attached to it (throttling of bandwidth, maximum files size, etc.). When searching for an ideal backup solution, take a look at the options that take into account your growth potential. Be aware of providers that require a long-term contract with fixed bandwidth, data capacity. If the maximum capacity of your data is 50gb, you shouldn't pay for 150gb of data, until you need it. When you do need it, what is the path for expansion?

The fact that your data can be backed up immediately and automatically is a huge benefit. Once the data has been moved to the cloud, via online uploads, or seeding options (copying of all data onto an encrypted USB and shipping it to the cloud provider is one of these options) your business will enjoy immediate protection of company assets.

Cloud service providers benefit from economy of scale and have the ability to pass these savings onto the consumer, something that an SMB could not produce alone.

Wrap Up
The ability to access files when computers or networks crash can make or break an SMB. Making the decision to move to the cloud can be the difference between keeping your business in good health when it comes to protecting your data or losing everything and starting over. Being well prepared, doing adequate software research, and finding answers to the questions above will prepare you to confidently transition to the Cloud.

More Stories By Jamie Brenzel

Jamie Brenzel brings over 15 years of experience in investment banking and entrepreneurial startups to his role as CEO of KineticD. His prior business accomplishments are long and varied. He was at Salomon Brothers in London, where he helped build the equity derivatives department into an important profit center. He then embarked on his future as an entrepreneur, acquiring Wood Printing & Graphics, and later co-founding integrated marketing communications company Sonar Group. Jamie then established a solid foundation for Truition, an eCommerce service company for clients such as Dell Financial Services, CompUSA and Sirius Satellite Radio. Jamie holds an Honors Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics and Philosophy from the University of Western Ontario.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that B2Cloud will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. B2Cloud specializes in IoT devices for preventive and predictive maintenance in any kind of equipment retrieving data like Energy consumption, working time, temperature, humidity, pressure, etc.
Today traditional IT approaches leverage well-architected compute/networking domains to control what applications can access what data, and how. DevOps includes rapid application development/deployment leveraging concepts like containerization, third-party sourced applications and databases. Such applications need access to production data for its test and iteration cycles. Data Security? That sounds like a roadblock to DevOps vs. protecting the crown jewels to those in IT.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cedexis will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cedexis is the leader in data-driven enterprise global traffic management. Whether optimizing traffic through datacenters, clouds, CDNs, or any combination, Cedexis solutions drive quality and cost-effectiveness.
Many companies start their journey to the cloud in the DevOps environment, where software engineers want self-service access to the custom tools and frameworks they need. Machine learning technology can help IT departments keep up with these demands. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ajay Gulati, Co-Founder, CTO and Board Member at ZeroStack, will discuss the use of machine learning for automating provisioning of DevOps resources, taking the burden off IT teams.
SYS-CON Events announced today that NetApp has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. NetApp is the data authority for hybrid cloud. NetApp provides a full range of hybrid cloud data services that simplify management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate digital transformation. Together with their partners, NetApp em...
Is advanced scheduling in Kubernetes achievable? Yes, however, how do you properly accommodate every real-life scenario that a Kubernetes user might encounter? How do you leverage advanced scheduling techniques to shape and describe each scenario in easy-to-use rules and configurations? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Oleg Chunikhin, CTO at Kublr, will answer these questions and demonstrate techniques for implementing advanced scheduling. For example, using spot instances ...
Why Federal cloud? What is in Federal Clouds and integrations? This session will identify the process and the FedRAMP initiative. But is it sufficient? What is the remedy for keeping abreast of cutting-edge technology? In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rasananda Behera will examine the proposed solutions: Private or public or hybrid cloud Responsible governing bodies How can we accomplish?
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ryobi Systems will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ryobi Systems Co., Ltd., as an information service company, specialized in business support for local governments and medical industry. We are challenging to achive the precision farming with AI. For more information, visit http:...
Cloud-based disaster recovery is critical to any production environment and is a high priority for many enterprise organizations today. Nearly 40% of organizations have had to execute their BCDR plan due to a service disruption in the past two years. Zerto on IBM Cloud offer VMware and Microsoft customers simple, automated recovery of on-premise VMware and Microsoft workloads to IBM Cloud data centers.
SYS-CON Events announced today that mruby Forum will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. mruby is the lightweight implementation of the Ruby language. We introduce mruby and the mruby IoT framework that enhances development productivity. For more information, visit http://forum.mruby.org/.
Cloud applications are seeing a deluge of requests to support the exploding advanced analytics market. “Open analytics” is the emerging strategy to deliver that data through an open data access layer, in the cloud, to be directly consumed by external analytics tools and popular programming languages. An increasing number of data engineers and data scientists use a variety of platforms and advanced analytics languages such as SAS, R, Python and Java, as well as frameworks such as Hadoop and Spark...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Mobile Create USA will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Mobile Create USA Inc. is an MVNO-based business model that uses portable communication devices and cellular-based infrastructure in the development, sales, operation and mobile communications systems incorporating GPS capabi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enroute Lab will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enroute Lab is an industrial design, research and development company of unmanned robotic vehicle system. For more information, please visit http://elab.co.jp/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Nihon Micron will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Nihon Micron Co., Ltd. strives for technological innovation to establish high-density, high-precision processing technology for providing printed circuit board and metal mount RFID tags used for communication devices. For more inf...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Suzuki Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Suzuki Inc. is a semiconductor-related business, including sales of consuming parts, parts repair, and maintenance for semiconductor manufacturing machines, etc. It is also a health care business providing experimental research for...
IBM helps FinTechs and financial services companies build and monetize cognitive-enabled financial services apps quickly and at scale. Hosted on IBM Bluemix, IBM’s platform builds in customer insights, regulatory compliance analytics and security to help reduce development time and testing. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Lennart Frantzell, a Developer Advocate with IBM, will discuss how these tools simplify the time-consuming tasks of selection, mapping and data integration, allowing devel...
SYS-CON Events announced today that N3N will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. N3N’s solutions increase the effectiveness of operations and control centers, increase the value of IoT investments, and facilitate real-time operational decision making. N3N enables operations teams with a four dimensional digital “big board” that consolidates real-time live video feeds alongside IoT sensor data a...
Today most companies are adopting or evaluating container technology - Docker in particular - to speed up application deployment, drive down cost, ease management and make application delivery more flexible overall. As with most new architectures, this dream takes significant work to become a reality. Even when you do get your application componentized enough and packaged properly, there are still challenges for DevOps teams to making the shift to continuous delivery and achieving that reducti...
Mobile device usage has increased exponentially during the past several years, as consumers rely on handhelds for everything from news and weather to banking and purchases. What can we expect in the next few years? The way in which we interact with our devices will fundamentally change, as businesses leverage Artificial Intelligence. We already see this taking shape as businesses leverage AI for cost savings and customer responsiveness. This trend will continue, as AI is used for more sophistica...