Cloud-based solutions: why and where they matter

Cloud-based solutions: why and where they matter

This post was inspired by a recent conversation I had with the CEO of my web hosting company, BlackSun Inc., Steve Rogoschewsky.

From the perspective of a keen follower of technology and its impact and influence in the way we do business and relate with each other, I feel it’s critical that marketing and communication professionals also have, in the very least, a working understanding of the cloud and its role in the long term operational success of organizations.

Up to now, I have had the benefit of exchanging information and ideas about cloud computing from other professionals in this space including Ernie Huber, Dexin Shi, Chin Fang, and @newteric.

image source: digitaltrends.com

But the knowledge exchange has been cursory at best. And while I don’t pretend to be an expert in the specific mechanics surrounding cloud-based technology, I do understand the various delivery models that underpin the cloud computing paradigm.

In fact, some will claim that the cloud is not exactly a ‘paradign shift’ most portray it to be but more of a hyped up marketing meme. BUT, that’s probably another topic..for Ernie to explore.. 😉

So to do my own part in helping further demystify the cloud and educating myself and my peers, I’ve set out to gather firsthand thoughts from Steve, whose company is right in the thick of cloud-based solutions.

Below are some questions I ran by Steve. I hope his insights will be of value to marketers, decision makers, and IT pros alike:

What are the top 3 considerations for organizations seeking cloud-based hosting solutions? Why should cloud be a business priority?

Although cloud computing is now practically a household term, many key factors come into play when considering investing in the cloud. Here are some that come to mind:

  1. Placing your data in a secure facility, with UPS backed Generator power, multiple redundant connections to ensure reliability and uptime.
  2. It’s often more cost effective to have an experienced firm handle the ever-changing hardware and software requirements than doing it in-house. Total cost of ownership is much lower than if you owned it yourself, keeping your IT budget on track or in reserve.
  3. Subscribing to an On-demand service model allows you to scale up or down more easily as needed.
The virtual nature and seemingly unrestricted capacity of managing information on the cloud is pretty much a no-brainer and has thus naturally become a priority consideration for most companies.

Next to security, fault tolerance and robust redundancy are key points of evaluation when moving to the cloud. Why is the physical location of servers now suddenly a critical consideration?

I recently responded to a discussion on how many of the data centers located in a disaster zone of Sandy were offline. We have seen other issues over the years in the path of bad weather where some data facilities were online , but there were no employees that were able to show up for work.

During those crises, it seemed reasonable to expect that most of the workers at those facilities will firstly take care of their home or family. It also made sense to look at moving your data from east or west coast locations.

With Vancouver’s recent Earthquakes, would you risk your data online the western coastal US or Canadian fault lines? Eastern US Coast lines frequently are hit with (yearly) hurricane weather as well.

I am still having issues communicating with cellular and landline users in New York as a result of last week’s hurricane. Eastern Canada is prone to heavy Fall weather (extreme snow and ice), but most of those critical data have already moved in land in Canada.

You mentioned a domain lookup tool earlier in our correspondence. Can you tell me more about what that function serves?

The “Where is your data located?” is a tool we developed so that folks could place their domain name in there, to see where their website is physically located.
All of the BlackSun accounts will indicate Saskatoon. Others around the province of Saskatchewan are often surprised when companies like MTS , Telus, Sasktel, etc have their sites hosted out of Florida! This tool offers a quick geo reference of the physical location of their respective web servers.

Typically, what type of cost savings or process-related efficiencies could companies expect from investing in cloud-based solutions? From your perspective, which specific scenarios tend to get the most traction and ROI from the cloud?

We see most efficiencies can be gained when you have a larger tech company or team that has “some equipment in the back” of their office, that they are always struggling to maintain. Once they jump to the cloud, the IT staff can focus on moving the rest of the company’s IT needs forward, rather than struggling to keep up with existing internal projects (that are typically always behind).

What are some of the tangible benefits of offering cloud-based solutions that allow companies to manage their own out-of-the-box IT solutions?

The ability to quickly scale (turn up a cloud service within 5 minutes) rather than spending the weekend installing operating systems on a ‘new’ server. Similarly, the ability to turn off the same server is a great way to spin up dev environments for short-term projects.

Cloud computing may not be every marketer’s bailiwick. But having a good sense of why organizations are preoccupied with its value and how to best integrate this service delivery model can win brownie points for marketers, especially those who do tend to work closely with IT teams.

In an age where technological advancements are fast influencing organizations’ operational efficiencies, it takes more than simply getting on the bandwagon and echoing marketing memes that sound novel and promising: understanding how the cloud plays a role in the overall evolution of information management is a good first step.

About BlackSun Inc.
BlackSun, a Canadian company based in Saskatchewan, delivers reliable, high-performance web hosting with guaranteed satisfaction and uptime. Consistently ranked as one of Canada’s top web hosting providers BlackSun provides state-of-the-art web hosting with guaranteed reliability, along with an extensive marketing and promotional knowledge base that can be easily tailored to address both individual and organizational needs.

Plus, I personally think they rock: they have been my web hosting company for years and I’m more than happy to share the great work they do:

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NOTE: This is NOT a sponsored post. No promotional or monetary exchange was made between me and BlackSun. As with interviews with other tech professionals in the past, I am genuinely intrigued by the tech and grateful for the professionals who are willing to share their respective insights.

3 thoughts on “Cloud-based solutions: why and where they matter

  1. Great interview autom8 
     
    I agree with Steve it really has become common however, I still hear pockets of resistance in highly regulated industries such as banking.  A CIO of a local bank recently told me,  “the regulators refuse to let me move anything to the cloud because they don’t understand it yet so they won’t rule on it or allow it.”
    He said they are lobbying to change that but it will take time.
     
    You know I agree with all the benefits Steve outlined but there are two that have brought me/my team the most benefit.
    1. Focusing the team on business transformation projects instead of support/keep the lights on.
    2. Reducing the amount of effort we spend on compliance activities.  This assumes you have a good SSAE16 (formerly SAS70 Type II)
     
    Once the team realized that eliminating those activities didn’t equal losing jobs but rather working on more interesting projects, they were 100% on board.  Morale went up and voluntary turnover went down.
     
    Potential permanent changes in weather patterns does mean we have to be more diligent in our vetting process of solution providers.  So we add that to our checklists, SOPs, and contracts and move forward.
     
    Thanks again for a great post.

  2. @ErnieHuber thanks for those additional insights..per our earlier tweets, I still can’t help but continue to wonder about cloud security considerations playing a less than popular but more than internally critical role in the transformational aspect of cloud-based solutions:
     
    when we talk of security in the cloud exactly what functional areas are we looking at / being affected (presumably actual transaction-based activities, including the storage and movement of data etc) but why does it continue to be an ongoing issue (thinking out loud here) surely there are identifiable weak spots that have by now been isolated and security protocols implemented to address etc
     
    again, i am thinking from an abstracted notion of internal process and procedure that IT continue obviously wrap their heads around..also, legacy data must certainly play a part in the challenges at arriving at concrete security solutions/work-arounds — migration, re-indexing re-mapping, re-classifying etc and surely for various, specific business functions and not 1 standardized approach (‘standard’ and ‘cloud’ right next to each other is practically an unsaid oxymoron)
     
    finally, you also note compliance-related activities: this must also factor into the equation..
     
    thanks again, Ernie appreciate your input as always

  3. This really show that cloud computing change the way business do their daily operation. But after all of this, choosing the best one would be the top priority because of the security issues and other important concerns for the business. Thanks for sharing this article with us. I really learned a lot and I totally agree with the 3 considerations for organizations seeking cloud-based hosting solutions. I got so many ideas with Steve Rogoschewsky. Thanks again and looking forward to read more informative post in this site like this one.

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