The Cloud, Its Storage and the Mobile Worker

Let’s face it: Technology is migrating toward the cloud. Unless you have sensitive or secret data you can’t share with third parties, then you have no reason not to embrace it. In short, the cloud is affordable, effective, 99.9% available anywhere, has almost unlimited storage, and allows you to focus on matters other than keeping your network up-to-date — and all you need is an internet connection. Industry experts say that cloud computing will only continue to grow and expand over the next few years, which means companies will need to keep up, or get left behind.

The “Mobile Worker” (like you, maybe), is growing more dependent on answering emails and working on the go with a smartphone, tablet and laptop both outside and inside the office. With so many efficient devices and capabilities allowing coworkers to touch base at once, it would only make sense to have all of your data stored in one centralized location. Additionally, most cloud services, such as Windows Azure, provide a web interface. This means you can access your data on any device or platform that has internet capabilities.

Haven’t we thought of this already?

Of course we have. Companies today invest enormous funds in servers and storage capability, data back-up, security and firewalls, VPN capability…and of course employ highly paid and highly trained people to manage it all. This can be a very effective and efficient way to run your network. Cloud computing, however, takes all of this and puts it in, well, the cloud, giving companies wiggle room to focus and spend more money on other important things. With cloud storage, you also cover the key bases of redundancy (files always available in case the unthinkable happens), physical security (data stored in provider’s off-site data center), and HVAC (reduced company energy consumption keeping servers cool). Studies have shown cloud computing can be 30% more efficient when considering energy use as a whole.

So what about storage?

Cloud storage is just about limitless. You only have to pay for what you use, and when you need more it is immediately available for your expanding company. All you need is an internet connection to access your data from anywhere, anytime. With the right software, you can even work together with others on the same document so you don’t have to worry about 13 final drafts and five file formats to combine for your PowerPoint presentation, or deal with 15 emails on which potato chips will be at the company picnic. Your data is truly available almost anywhere, and drastically helps you to manage your time while on the go.

Disadvantages

Everything, of course, has disadvantages. Cloud data performance is only as good as the bandwidth provided, which means the time it takes to open a document completely depends on your connection to the cloud. Your cloud data is also susceptible to any type of outage between you and where your data is actually stored; if the internet or your connection is down your data is completely unavailable. Because it is new technology, however, the cloud data storage industry has yet to create standard protocols. Different interfaces have been created to access different cloud data, so it could be quite difficult to switch cloud storage providers if you choose to. The most extreme disadvantage is that a third party has access to your data, so sensitive or secret files about your company are now in the hands of another company, and if that data was to get hacked all of these files could be exposed. Therefore, you’ll want expert help, guidance and a solid plan for security, high availability and disaster recovery in place before making your move to the cloud.

Ok, I’m convinced; but where do I start?

AIS has proficiency with all aspects of cloud technologies (IaaS, SaaS and PaaS) and provides focused expertise on both Amazon Web Services and the Microsoft platform. Microsoft’s cloud service, Windows Azure, can help you with all your small or big data needs from SQL databases to blobs to tables. These are backed by a 99.9% service level agreement so data loss or problems accessing your data should be nonexistent, nor should you need to worry about maxing out storage space with up to 100 terabytes per Azure account available. See what AIS services and the cloud can do for your company’s mobile and storage needs.

About Richard Kearse

Richard Kearse is a SharePoint Analyst with over four years' experience in hardware and software technologies. Coming to AIS in October of 2012, Richard brings a small arsenal of CompTIA certifications, government contracting, non-profit, and a teaching background in hopes to help the company continue to grow and maintain its positive impression with clients and prospects. When spare time is available, Richard likes work on his comic strip, modify cars with his brother, and go boating.