evaluate private cloud solutions

Image source: Cloudtimes.org

It’s the latest enterprise trend — everything is moving in the direction of the cloud.  It’s easy to understand why.  From decreased infrastructure needs to better costs and the ability to support a mobile workforce, cloud solutions are transforming the way that organizations do business.  But evaluating private cloud solutions for enterprises can be intimidating for even experienced IT managers.  Here are our recommended questions to ask about any private cloud solutions.

Document the process. How will we use the cloud and for what functions?  Evaluating potential cloud strategies has to start with understanding the business requirements that underlie the solution.  Who will be the using the cloud-based applications, and what will they be doing with them?  What devices do they need access to the information on, and how many users will access it?  What processes is this data part of, and what needs to be true in order for the data storage solution to support and interact with these processes effectively?  All process documents should be fully outlined and up to date prior to implementing a private cloud solution.

Evaluate data security. Do we have specific security concerns?  One of the most obvious constraints of dealing with the cloud is security concerns.  This is likely the driver behind opting for a private cloud over a shared hosting solution, but regardless the factor of security needs to be considered.  Do you have confidential information, including client data, internal financial reports, or other sensitive information?  Is any of your information classified, such as government data, or subject to HIPAA laws, like patient records?  In these cases, determining if the level of security provided by the cloud solution is adequate will be a critical piece of the evaluation process.

private cloud solutions

Image source: IBM.com

Establish your server needs. What is the magnitude of our infrastructure requirements? One of the benefits of cloud hosting is a reduction in the volume of infrastructure required to host large amounts of data. But when your company opts for a private solution, you may end up bringing that infrastructure in house.  Choosing between dedicated, white-label server options at an offsite location and adapting your own technological capabilities to support the cloud is an important distinction.  Bear in mind that additional costs for in-house infrastructure may include the personnel needed to administer the software, as well as maintain the equipment.

Understand the system’s limitations. What needs do we have that the technology isn’t able to address? It’s important to acknowledge that cloud server technology and hosting is a huge leap forward, particularly for multi-office and mobile employers.  Yet cloud technology isn’t a panacea, and although it’s evolving rapidly it is also important to have realistic expectations.  Getting clear on what desired functions may not yet be available, or may not be available within your budget, is critical.  Often, technical staff understands this inherently.  But projects will be vastly more successful if you take the time to communicate this to your admin and executive staff prior to implementation.

Private cloud solutions can be an excellent enterprise IT investment.  It’s important to ask the right questions when evaluating potential strategies to ensure that the technology meets both internal process needs and end user expectations.