Prioritize These 5 Cloud Essentials

By now, you've likely deployed a host of cloud services throughout your organization, and seen great results in the process. Nevertheless, cloud computing is not a cure-all, and without a handful of essential features supporting your off-premise environments, you may not be leveraging the full value of your investments in this arena. Recognizing the shortcomings of your current cloud environments and developing checklist of must-have attributes is key in determining the direction of your data center optimization efforts and facilitating faster, smoother and more cost-effective service delivery.

Of course, the cloud remains a relatively new technology, and even if you consider yourself an early adopter, there's a chance you are missing out on some of the lesser-known capabilities of this innovation. Here are the five cloud characteristics that must be featured in your off-premise loadout, and prioritized in any future deployments from here on out:

1. Reliable, available service:

Downtime is your greatest adversary in the world of IT, and even a few minutes of network blackout can have devastating ripple effects on the productivity and momentum of the workforce. An ideal cloud environment will be resilient, able to overcome operational interruptions thanks to sufficient backup architecture and plenty of business continuity measures. If your cloud isn't able to power through sticky situations such as natural disasters, power outages and cyberthreats, you are missing out on the peace of mind necessary to succeed in modern IT.

2. Secure application delivery:

The frequency of cyber attacks in the digital landscape is high enough to scare any executive IT leader, especially those responsible for safeguarding highly sensitive information. While you may have a firm grip on cyber security in your legacy systems, things can get a little more complicated when you migrate your assets to an off-premise location.

Rather than leaving the task of data protection up to a third-party service provider, however, you need to remain vigilant about the integrity of your data no matter where it may be stored. This means cultivating close partnerships with dedicated cloud vendors. According to a recent article from Tech Page One, some thought leaders have asserted that with a collaborative approach to cloud security, you may find that your data is even better protected than in legacy setups, due to the extreme caution with which these off-premise assets are coordinated.

"A cloud is more secure than a physical data center at a customer location," said Vasu Subbiah, vice president of products for CloudVelox, as quoted by the news source. "On an average, a cloud service provider has more resources deployed to ensure the security of data and infrastructure and tends to apply best practices with more rigor."

3. Support in every situation:

Even if your team is comprised of dozens of on-call support staff, nothing compares to the guidance of a dedicated cloud service provider when it comes to addressing maintenance and service needs. From the migration process to optimization and development stages, you need gather as much expert support as possible to achieve your cloud computing goals. Make sure your solution vendor has the experience and IT acumen to provide quality assistance at every phase of the cloud lifecycle, especially if this is your first go-round with off-premise tools.

4. Sound service-level agreements:

You wouldn't skim over the fine print when entering a personal legal contract, so why breeze through the service level agreement process with a cloud provider? These documents provide a blueprint for the technical, financial and contractual details of your cloud outlook, and should be at the ready whenever you encounter an issue with your service. According to NetworkComputing, a cloud partnership should never be defined by fear of legal enforcement, but in such a competitive business environment, it's always better to be safe than sorry.

Ideally, an SLA should include a granular examination of your cloud's storage, compute and memory capacities, along with the level of technical support and network availability you can expect when you first implement the service. Don't hesitate to ask tough questions when entering the agreement, either - you have plenty of options when it comes to the cloud, and you are in the driver's seat.

5. Highly scalable environments:

One of the cloud's most intriguing features is its scalable, elastic nature, allowing you to add, drop and manipulate resources on the fly for maximum flexibility. In such a rapidly moving economy, you never know when your organization may require additional development environments, find itself squeezed for storage or experience a month-long reduction in traffic. With scalable infrastructure solutions, you won't have to worry about coming up short or overspending on equipment.

Make sure that your cloud provider offers fast, simple scalability options for whichever resources you require. This will help you keep end user productivity high and your monthly service bills low.