Dare we Trust our Processes to the Cloud? | DCR Workforce Blog

Dare we Trust our Processes to the Cloud?

cloud computingOn August 14th, many development teams which relied on Microsoft’s Visual Studio Online to manage their complex project deliveries must have groaned ‘Nightmares are made of this!’ when the service suffered more than a 5 hour outage. The unprecedented blackout (though followed by acandid apology and explanation from Microsoft) once again brings the very concept of moving one’s computing processes to the cloud – under a cloud!

Cloud computing could take different forms like Information-as-a-service (IaaS) Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) like Windows Azure, and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) like DCR’s Smart Track Vendor Management System. Undoubtedly, businesses enjoy great advantages when they move their data and processes from their in-house servers to a hosted provider.

Some of the primary advantages of making the move to the cloud are that:

  • You do not need to pay high license, installation and maintenance fees to run the program of your choice; you just need to pay a monthly or yearly fee for accessing the program and using it on the service provider’s servers.
  • Access to pay-per-click applications in the cloud as well as storage for your data makes it possible to save money on making huge, avoidable capital investments into hardware and software. The cloud eliminates the pain of updating an outdated computing infrastructure to accommodate a new application.
  • The program and data will be accessible online to multiple users, any time and irrespective of their location. This is encouraging companies which have a small number of actual IT users to look at cloud computing services as a highly viable alternative to having their own IT infrastructure and team.
  • Teams can share project related data, information and even work on the same project simultaneously or at different times (depending on their location on the globe) and enjoy flexible work options, scalability on demand without affecting their performance and the end result. Perhaps all businesses may not achieve immediate scalability on demand in an in-house operation of a similar process.
  • An important and probably indirect benefit with adopting cloud computing services is that your data files are safe in the cloud and accessible from other locations in the event of any man-made threat or natural disaster affecting your physical location, offering you business continuity and disaster recovery with minimal effort or investment.

Of course, like all good things, the naysayers will point out the possible flip side.

  • Transitioning to a new way of working could be a cause for concern.
  • Any down time to the cloud computing service could affect the client’s performance and even business operations.
  • Among the most frequently voiced of the concerns is the security offered to your data as well as protection from any virus attacks.
  • Higher costs of providing internet access for all users of the data on the cloud.
  • Assured access to real time data at any given time.
  • Ownership of and access to all data when the decision is made to move the application back in house or to another provider.

When you are signing up a SaaS-based application, look into these things:

  • Where will the application be hosted? Is a reputable hosting company being used?
  • How often is your data backed up?
  • Does the hosting site automatically have back-up sides in case of a disaster?
  • Is data encrypted when communicated?
  • What is in place to control data access?
  • Who will implement your application? What are their qualifications?
  • What is the availability history of the application and the hosting service being used? Can they provide audits or other evidence?
  • How often is the hosting environment audited? Is the audit performed by a recognized third party auditing firm? Can you see a copy of the results of the last audit?

Clearly, cloud-based computing has proven to provide great benefits over traditional client/server applications. Uses can expect greater access, reduced costs, and higher availability. However, all SaaS, IaaS and PaaS vendors do not adhere to the same standards.

Clichéd as it may sound; the proof of a pudding is always in the eating. In the case of service providers, you will gain invaluable insight by looking at their track record. One litmus test would be to see if any of their previous customers jumped ship for reasons known/unknown. Ask for references, and follow up with specific questions regarding reliability, availability and security. Read online reviews. These simple steps will ensure a “peace of mind” approach to cloud computing.

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.