Protecting your business in the cloud including IaaS

One of the fastest growing segments in the IT industry is cloud computing. Many estimates predict this segment alone will account for $150 billion, or more, of the IT industry. The International Data Corporation (IDC) even predicts that “2012 Will Be the Year of Mobile and Cloud Platform Wars”. This is said to be caused by several converging forces, “smartphones, media tablets, mobile networks, social networking, and big data analytics.” In order to stay ahead of all these trends, more and more companies are looking to IT infrastructure which offers elasticity, easy access to data, regional redundancy, rapid scaling, centralized server security, and global localization. Cloud computing has emerged as the best option for providing all these services and more.Trending

Good news, your business was just mentioned on international news networks! This means you’ll receive a massive spike in potential customers visiting your site, exploring your services, and buying your products. However, this massive surge of interest has taken your site offline in a matter of seconds. Unfortunately, with traditional network services it would take you months to purchase, test, provision, and deploy the new hardware necessary to remedy the problem.

This tragedy is more common than you think and it can easily be avoided thanks to cloud computing. Rather than relying on rigid IT infrastructure, your business can be built in the cloud or simply connected to it for on-demand resources. By thinking of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), your network can be connected to a remote data center to provide redundancy and disaster recovery. This means that when you get that surge of interest in your products and services, your network will automatically expand as demand for your resources expands. Also, once this blip in activity subsides, so too will your IT infrastructure costs. Traditional IT upgrades require large capital investments which cannot easily be recouped once they are no longer needed. Protecting your business in this way is just one of the many reasons businesses and individuals are flocking to the cloud.

Creating a single, centralized, data storage location for your business is another reason that cloud computing has gained in popularity. Even if the central location is a virtual one, cloud computing provides a single point of access to information stored on multiple servers around the globe. Access to, and proper utilization of, this vast amount of data can improve your business practices and provide a competitive advantage over your competition. This makes data storage, and its security, in the cloud one of the most important features of cloud computing.

Data Storage

Moving data storage off-site adds a level of security and access to protect the information your business relies on. However, cloud computing not only allows you to move your data off-site, but also your applications. This is becoming more and more important as smart phones, tablets, and browser based computing gains in popularity. These devices do not have the processing power or data storage capabilities of desktop and laptop computers. Instead, much of the processing need of applications is offloaded to servers. Storing your files and applications in the cloud provides easy access and backup options.

Opening a new satellite office with traditional IT infrastructure required the purchase, testing, provisioning, and installation of new hardware and software for each work station as well as servers and other back-end components. Through virualization, Software as a Service (SaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), a new office can be online in a matter of days rather than weeks. Additionally, having remote access to the software and data used by your business means that you can operate your business from anywhere. As more and more employees demand telecommuting options, and more employers see the cost benefits of allowing employees to work from home, cloud computing has gained in popularity. Additionally, storing your data and software in the cloud provides regional redundancy to your business processes.

Regional Redundancy

Applications and data located in the cloud can be securely access from around the globe, ensuring that a regional outage does not impede your business. This means that your business can be operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, simply by hopping time zones with your data and applications in the cloud. Giant companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Google have been able to take advantage of global business processes for some time. Traditionally, these companies have relied on massive investments in regional IT infrastructure and centralized offices around the globe.

Regional redundancy has allowed companies to create continuous development processes which expedite innovation. This has lead some to remark, “the sun never sets on the Microsoft empire”, referring to the fact Microsoft has a physical presence in countries around the globe. However, this same feature that has supplied Microsoft with a competitive edge for many years can now be accomplished in the cloud. The biggest benefit being the relatively low cost to implement a “global empire” in the cloud.

Today, however, companies like AirBnB, Groupon, and Living Social, have all been born in the cloud and utilize global business processes as a fundamental part of their business. These businesses are just starting up and they already operate multiple virtual servers around the globe with elasticity which allows them to scale their infrastructure as demand increases or decreases. This elasticity can be implemented regionally to account for sudden spikes in interest or across their network when a new feature is added to their business.

Scaling

Testing and deploying a new service or application comes with a massive investment in IT infrastructure that often squelches innovation. However, server virtualization through cloud computing offer the possibility of developing products on virtual servers to prove their value before buying expensive hardware and software resources. This is one reason that many of the more recent start-ups have been founded exclusively on cloud based hardware.

It is very difficult to predict where and when a particular product or service will attract the collective attention of a massive audience. This phenomenon is referred to as trending and it can deliver a massive spike of traffic to your network. If you aren’t prepared for it, your network will go down, business will be lost, and customers will leave your site in droves. However, rapid and regional scaling abilities of cloud computing can supply additional IT resources when needed, and remove them when they are not in use.

Another major benefit of the elasticity and easy scaling of cloud computing resources is the ability to rapidly launch new products and services into the marketplace. New virtual servers can be brought online in a matter of days and at a fraction of the cost of building specialized IT hardware. Additionally, these servers can be rapidly expanded if demand is sufficient, or dismantled when demand diminishes. At the same time, cloud computing offers centralized physical security of the hardware running the services and centralized virtual security options for network administrators.

Centralized Security

The virtual servers use in cloud computing environments are housed in massive data centers which creates two forms of security advantages. In the first place, the servers are physically clustered together in a single building which allows for better provision of physical security measures. Secondly, these servers are located off-site from your business which means they are unaffected by regional security threats. This type of security in the cloud is a major consideration for any business considering a complete move to cloud computing or just a partial hybridization. Implemented properly, cloud computing can comply with the regulations of ISO 27001, HIPAA, and PCI DSS. One of the cloud computing predictions by Gartner suggests that “by 2016, 40 percent of enterprises will make proof of independent security testing a precondition for using any type of cloud service.”

By pooling the IT resources of many companies that utilize virtual computing services in the cloud, data centers can provide better physical security measures than any one company could supply on their own. This includes better connections to high-speed network trunks, more advanced security systems, and rapid response to physical security threats. Compared with multiple server rooms in buildings scattered across the country, or even the globe, having a single location to focus physical security measures provides much better security for data and applications.

Additionally, moving the physical servers off-site from your business avoids regional security concerns. These include issues of intellectual property protection as you business expands into other regulatory regimes, as well as customer, client, and patient data security. Partner data centers take on the responsibility of providing physical security for the hardware while you focus on the virtual security of your data and business processes.

Localization

With employees around the globe now working from home and telecommuting to the office, it has become extremely important to reduce latency through secure server localization. This is where Forethought.net shines as a communications IaaS supplier in the area of Denver and Boulder, Colorado. Any company conducting business in Colorado can benefit from low-latency access to data and applications through secure IaaS services offered by Forethought.net. This includes hosting applications, data storage, server virtualization, and many other services.