Keith Smith - My Blog

Cloud Services for the enterprise

Monday, May 8, 2017 - by Keith A. Smith

Most IT staff balance building out more internal and robust IT infrastructure versus utilizing cloud services to fulfill those needs. More infrastructure sometimes means more personnel and overhead if processes aren't efficient and automation of repetitive task are missing, this causes decision makers to weigh that against the cost to determine the value of cloud services to an organization. To balance whether or not the IT service we are thinking of moving to the cloud is a core or unique service to our business versus merely a commodity. Moving commodity services to the cloud, particularly to those providers with highly evolved and transparent security models, are particularly attractive. Most technologist believes that this provides freedom to focus on the technologies that are core business enablers while receiving top-tier service from cloud providers makes the business more sustainable.

Still, not everything with cloud services is perfect. I find that small interruptions in service do happen, and the reason(s) these disruptions occur can be difficult to pinpoint. We as IT Pro's are unable to control the issue or have any real impact on the issue’s resolution. Those experiences can be frustrating as the end-users usually can’t tell the difference between an IT-supplied service and a cloud-supplied service; but they do understand that what they need doesn’t work, that IT gave it to them, and that they want it fixed immediately.

And of course, cloud applications are not maintenance free. We still utilize our resources to manage the applications, including user provisioning, permission management, configuration, and enabling new features for end-users.

I also find those technologies that allow organizations to bridge traditional infrastructure and cloud infrastructure can be troublesome seamlessly. For example, a cloud identity provider that provisions access to multiple cloud applications sounds like a fantastic tool until that provider has a day-long outage, resulting in a very unproductive day for our end-users. These end-users also need to exercise caution when considering what providers will do about backing up data. Most providers will keep the service running at a 99.99% rate, but if a document gets corrupted or deleted and forgotten about within normal operation of the application, there can be no recourse if you haven’t taken additional steps to plan for those possibilities. Numerous organizations that I have consulted with weren’t prepared for that possibility, lost data with cloud providers, and promptly retreated to on-premise solutions.

With the speed of provisioning, the general reliability of services, and the enhanced security benefits offered by the top cloud providers, it’s hard to ignore the benefits that these cloud services can provide. However, it is important to understand limitations and take those into account when determining the right course of action for your organization.


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