Cloud Computing The business Perspective

Summary: The evolution of cloud computing over the past few years is potentially one of the major advances in the history of computing. Learn more about the various risks associated with cloud computing and how to choose the best cloud computing solution for your organization.

The Business Perspective
The evolution of cloud computing over the past few years is potentially one of the major advances in the history of computing. However, if cloud computing is to achieve its potential, there needs to be a clear understanding of the various issues involved, both from the perspectives of the providers and the consumers of the technology. While a lot of research is currently taking place in the technology itself, there is an equally urgent need for understanding the business-related issues surrounding cloud computing.

Cloud Computing and Risk
The emergence of cloud computing is a fundamental shift towards new on-demand business models together with new implementation models for the applications portfolio, the infrastructure, and the data, as they are provisioned as virtual services using the cloud. These technological and commercial changes have an impact on current working practices. Businesses need to understand the impact of the new combinations of technology layers, and how they work together. A crucial part of this is analyzing and assessing the risks involved.

For example, the use of shared resources, in multi-tenanted cloud systems and across multiple organizations seeking economies of scale, results in companies relying upon a common cloud service or platform. What attendant risks might this bring to the tenant consumer of the service, and to the sellers and providers of the cloud services? How will it impact their expectations of service levels and performance?

This is a fundamental issue for any enterprise that considers using the cloud.

Here’s a list of five risks any business faces as a customer of a public cloud service.

  • Shared access
  • Virtual exploits
  • Authentication, authorization, and access control
  • Availability
  • Ownership

Controlling Risks in the Cloud
All organizations should have policies to establish controls to prevent and detect the unauthorized procurement and use of cloud services, regardless of management’s position on venturing into cloud computing. Due to the low cost of initiating cloud services relative to traditional technology purchases, current controls such as expenditure limits may not trigger appropriate attention from management.

For example, a small business unit of a large corporation independently decided to leverage a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) system for a new product’s sales initiative. With no established corporate cloud policy, the business unit started this initiative without engaging the internal IT group or making a capital expenditure request. (The cloud solution required only Internet access and a credit card.) Once launched, the system was populated with data about customers and prospects. Consequently, confidential customer information was being stored outside the corporation’s internal computing environment without being subject to the organization’s controls or operating procedures.

For organizations that have decided to adopt cloud computing, the following are some suggested risk responses with respect to unauthorized cloud activity

  • Establish a cloud usage policy that clearly articulates the business processes and data that management deems appropriate to be supported by cloud computing solutions;
  • Create or update a policy that identifies who is authorized to procure cloud computing services;
  • Identify approved cloud vendors; and Define policy and communicate guidance on the management of relationships with CSPs.

Adopting Cloud
Before you leap into the cloud, you’re going to have to do some leg work. The good news is that the steps are similar to those you would take

to implement any technology solution.

Develop a strategic plan
What you are going to spend your IT budget on? A CRM solution? A database? A phone system? Figure

out what exactly you need to do in the cloud.

Understand your internal business processes
For example, if you have determined that you need a CRM solution, you need to understand how you are going to facilitate your business processes through the system. Try to envision how everything will work together.

Assess your capacity, budget and must haves
You may want x, y, and z, but can you realistically afford them and leverage them effectively? What are your “must-haves” in a solution?

Review your options
You can easily register for a trial with most of these applications to see if it is a good fit. The main commitment you’ll need to make is time — you need to invest enough time to understand how well the solution meets your needs and impacts your business processes. So, dig in, get your hands dirty, and see if there’s a good fit for your organization. Do some reading, too. Make an informed decision.

Engage with a partner as necessary
As with many technology solutions, applications available in the cloud can be implemented by your organization or by a partner. To determine which option is best for you, consider the cost of your time, the importance of accountability, and the value of ensuring everything is done right the first time. If you don’t have time for trial and error, consider working with an experienced partner who can streamline the process and get you up and running painlessly.

Opt for a Solutions
Partnering with the right provider will make your transition to cloud computing seamless and ensure your custom solution meets all your computing requirements. Here are a few tips to help you select the best cloud computing provider for your business:

Custom Cloud Solutions
Before you start researching the list of providers, remove the notion of a one-size-fits-all solution from your mind. It would be nice if one provider could offer you the perfect package that solved all of your problems, but that doesn’t exist. When it comes to cloud computing options, you’ll want to partner with a provider that can offer any combination of public, private and hybrid clouds.

Breadth of Cloud Services and Technologies
The best cloud computing providers have experience that extends beyond cloud technology. The best provider to partner with will understand the value of everything cloud related, including servers, security, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and much more. If your cloud computing provider doesn’t understand, and offer, all of these features, it will be difficult for them to enhance their service offering as your business grows.

Find a Provider that Understands Your Business
When you’re selecting a cloud computing provider, it is vital that your provider understands the needs of your business and employees. Choosing solely based on price is rarely successful, because you typically have to sacrifice something important in order to secure the lowest price.

Accommodating Your Needs Now and in the Future
Last but not least, cloud computing providers need to understand not only where your business is today, but where it is going in the future.

The business world is not a static environment. Things change, people change and demands change. Choose a cloud computing provider that can keep up, with your business and technology trends.

ARCON is a leading technology company specializing in risk control solutions. ARCON offers a proprietary unified governance framework, which addresses risk across various technology platforms. ARCON in the last one decade has been at the forefront of innovations in risk control solutions, with its roots strongly entranced in identifying business risk across industries it is in a unique position to react with innovative solutions/products.

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