I’ll list some assumptions below and we will be able to qualify how the cloud can help your IT services.
1. Having the right staff is critical to a successful IT Department. Technically strong and current skills are important. This does not need to be a large staff but needs to have the right people on the team!
2. You need a reliable and fast connection to the Internet for off site services to be sustainable. A 10MB or greater bidirectional connection is sufficient for most services in this general summary.
3. Proper hardware terminating the VPN tunnel with cloud provider will allow smooth and flexible operations.
4. Planning and testing will allow for success and prevent the “bad taste” from forming in the mouths of the EVP’s.
Now that we are past the legal indemnifications… let’s list some of the typical IT Services that could be hosted at Amazon, Dell, Microsoft or VMWare cloud based services:
1. Typical customer facing websites will logically fit. The main pages, images and some CRM or shopping applications can nest in the service structure.
2. Public file downloads and high traffic binaries are another great way to speed the product to the customer. This is nearly identical to item 1 but with a focus on bandwidth consumption and “burst traffic” considerations.
3. Email marketing SMTP servers can often black list your IP spaces and consume more bandwidth than is typically needed at the data center. Web analytic or advertisement hit tracking applications can also be a great fit for the cloud. You also do not need to provide that bandwidth at the data center.
4. Disaster recovery and high availability services are often impractical to duplicate. The typical infrequency of the demand can rule out a second data center. This is a little like insurance. Pay a little to have it available, pay a deductible when you use it and don’t spend the full cost to carry a duplicate idle copy.
5. Monitoring from the cloud can provide you “third party” service verification; a view of your network from the “outside” world. From the cloud you can perform security scans, measure KPIs and alarm when they are not up to snuff.
6. Mobile workforce applications or remote offices can connect to the cloud for community and corporate asset access. This frees the data center to focus on smaller more time consuming hands on projects.
7. Archiving and saving off “older” data to a location which has faster access than tape storage but not the cost of full server performance is another function where the cloud can save you money. This can allow your SOX/audits and legal departments a WORM storage target safe and offsite.
8. Antivirus public document scanning can be performed in the cloud. The cloud can act as a first line of defense between unknown/untrusted file creators and your internal network. Anonymous uploads the file and your cloud servers scan it and then sends it back through the tunnel to an internal corporate server for final processing.
9. Video compression and editing can consume vast CPU time. The clouds can auto provision new “worker” systems, transcode and polish the video files then sending the final product back home to the data center or just turn it around and host it back to the internet.
10. Firewalls are your largest attack vector. You can use the cloud as a digital moat thus adding a layer of protection to the corporate network. Allow the cloud provider to soak up the attack, deal with the black hats and work out the remedy.