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  • Up in the Clouds

    Date: 2011.10.11 | Category: About, business security, cloud computing, working remotely | Response: 1

    The Hidden Costs of Cloud Computing

    There is so much buzz these days about cloud computing.  You hear it everywhere, television commercials, business meetings, articles and newsletters so maybe by now you are thinking that you might need to inquire about it.

    The first thing to know is that the cloud isn’t really all that new.  For example, if you go to Facebook, bank on-line, or use Google or Yahoo for your email, then you are already on “the cloud.”  Simply said, the data in the cloud isn’t stored on your computer, it is stored on the Facebook, Google, Yahoo and your banking institutions server.  You do not have control of this data…they do.

    Some people don’t care where their data is stored, who sees it, or what happens to it…some do.  For example, if you are in a profession where the data is particularly sensitive, such as medical or the legal profession there are real consequences to a security breach.

    The cloud doesn’t have to be an all or nothing equation.  For your business for example, you might gain some real benefit from using a software application that is on the cloud.  But just because it is on the cloud (or accessed through the internet) doesn’t mean that you can’t be the one hosting it on your own server.  This is the best of both worlds.  It combines the beauty that is “the cloud” with its ease of use and access of information but the control some need to maintain by running it off of your own server.

    Our advice?

    Things you should know about “cloud” computing when contemplating if you should jump on the cloud bandwagon yourself:

    1. Internet Connection.  For the cloud to work, your internet connection must be maintained at all times.  In other words, if your internet is down…your cloud is down.  This may not be that big of a deal for you but if all of your data is on that cloud and your internet is down for more than a few minutes, it might turn into a more complicated situation for you or your business.
    2. Internet (data) Bandwidth.  Specifically, synchronous bandwidth.  For your data to reach the cloud you must have sufficient bandwidth availability through your internet provider.  This isn’t cheap.  Really not cheap and it is a vital part of making the cloud work for you.  Before moving over to a cloud hosted anything you must find out how much bandwidth you need to make it happen.  This will depend on the amount of data that you or your business uses.  So you must consider how you and your employees use the internet (video streaming, music, etc.), your VOIP phone system (if not on a separate phone line), security cameras, etc.  This clogs up your bandwidth super highway and drags down the speed and ability to drive your data to the cloud (not to mention use your phones, access the internet, etc.).
    3. Cloud Server Down = bad.  If the cloud server is down, your data can not be reached until they are back up.  Again, this could be mere seconds or days depending on the situation and it is out of your control (a scary thought for some business owners).
    4. Security.  Who is hosting the cloud?  Wherever it is hosted is where your data resides.  Who will see it?  How long will they store it?  How secure is their location?  Do they store it in multiple servers in various locations (redundancy) just in case the building burns down?  Can the data be intercepted while in transit to the cloud?  Yes, it should be encrypted, but because there are more people and businesses using the same cloud – there are more potential victims swimming in the same pool.  Making you a much more enticing target.
    5. Rent not Own.  Imagine that you rented a storage unit for your most valuable stuff for a really good price.  You saved lots of money because you didn’t have to buy a house big enough to fit it all in plus, they gave you a really good deal.  You had it there for years and years and luckily nobody stole any of it.  So now, you’ve decided that you want to cancel your lease for whatever reason.  But now the storage company won’t give you back your stuff.  Fine.  Since you’ve complained enough they’ll give it back to you but shred to pieces.  If you ever end a contract with a company hosting your cloud data, you might be able to save it or get it back from them but it will be in their format – that you no longer have access to thereby rendering your data unreadable and useless.  If you have been using a hosted cloud software application to run your business, what is the cost of not having access to all of that data (that has now multiplied significantly)?  Again, some people don’t mind this…some do.  Which are you?

    The bottom line is that if you are considering moving to the way of the cloud, for your software applications or even your server, really give it some thought.  Be aware of the hidden costs involved to truly know if it is in fact a great money saving deal.  Also, if you are considering moving your server to a hosting center, read your contract to be fully informed as to what will happen to your data and server if you ever change your mind. Weigh the benefits and the risks and talk to your trusted advisors.

    Copyright © 2011 Help Me!!® Tech Team, a division of HELP ME!!® Computers, LLC

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