Tag Archives: Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Assess Cloud Storage Services Before Actually Using Them

While cloud backups and storage and recovery solutions are great for your organisation, it is important for you to know that it is not without limitations. For that reason, SMBs that are currently planning to move to the cloud must take some time and check the advantages and disadvantages associated with cloud backup services before migrating to the cloud. So, the extent at which the pros associated with cloud storage outweigh the cons, will determine your decision whether to jump in the waggon and ride the cloud or not.

Cloud backup and storage has been made an interactive backup and storage option suitable for both small, medium and enterprise organisations through bandwidth and capacity optimisation technologies, and multi-tenant architectures on the Internet. There is integration of range of business continuity solutions with the concept of server abstraction; and provision of high availability of critical workloads are the product of the solutions generated in the cloud. This will also facilitate the speeding up of time to market by using highly developed file imaging and site recovery options, coupled with all-embracing interoperability and best practises.

Cloud backup and storage service providers use high-tech tools in order to meet with the needs and demands of their customers. The migrations, upgrades and outdated technology are abstracted to the level of the service provider, giving users the freedom to enjoy data storage as a measurable utility with easy payment option. There are lots of security services that are made available at the price of subscription to the customers in the cloud and some of them include: file compression, disk based backup, encryption, duplication of data, server and storage virtualisation, application of particular security, and tiered storage using security authorisation. Some of the service providers improve their service by incorporating 24/7 customer support, which helps to intimate the customer against any form of security violations.

As cloud services are based on the Internet, the service consumer may not really be in control of the service level agreement (SLA) or even performance guarantees. Limitation of bandwidth is capable of making storage and data recovery a tedious and difficult task. There may be problems with exit strategy if the organisation decides to pull out from the agreement. Termination fees, cancellation charges, data extraction costs are the possible issues you may face. That is why you need to examine the SLAs before signing on the dotted lines.

Therefore, SMBs should embark on a though assessment of cloud services before hitching their waggon to the cloud. You can get competitive edge in your niche and also redefine your company just with effective planning and implementation in the cloud. It is recommended that you embrace the cloud, but ensure that you are entering this market being vigilant and alert. Therefore, you should not migrate to the cloud without getting a real understanding of what you are engaging your company into, as well as the potential disadvantages and advantages associated with cloud services.

At Backup Technology, we are always ready to assist you in your efforts to migrate to the cloud by taking the time and advising you at all levels. We will help you get over bandwidth issues by seeding your initial data to our servers with no hidden fees, with clearly spelt out SLAs.

The Benefits of Cloud Based Email

Cloud based email providers have been growing in leaps and bounds. Today, there are a variety of vendors that provide cloud based email based services. These cloud based email services offer the end user many benefits by accessing the cloud technology.

For example, some providers offer a cloud based storage and collaboration service as part of their email package. This allows the end user not only to store and access their documents in the cloud, but also allows them to collaborate with multiple users, all over the world. Documents can be created in the cloud as part of the company’s email package, and of course once they are created, they can be safeguarded. This is a major convenience which the cloud technology makes possible.

The widespread use of cloud based email service has led to the production of computers that rely primarily on access to a cloud based email service. This is not surprising because more and more people are relying primarily on the cloud to create and store their documents. This is just one example of how the cloud’s reach has been spreading and of the success of the cloud revolution. As time goes on, both companies and individuals, are realising how cloud technology can be a useful tool in regards to the email services they may have.

In fact, some companies are sensibly introducing cloud based email as a back up to their primary email service. That way, if there are any problems with their main email, the cloud based email will be available. Cloud based email also makes it possible for companies to offer email services to employees who may not have a business email account.

In addition, many cloud based email services offer consumers a variety of other benefits as well. Some of these benefits includes day and night customer support by phone or email, anti-spam and virus support, mobility features which include email synchronisation and service level agreements which guarantee almost 100% uptime.

There are many cloud based mailboxes to choose from. Some of these include the extremely popular Google Gmail and the Microsoft Exchange Server. Users are able to migrate mail to their cloud based mailbox from other mailboxes. Another advantage is that these mailboxes that can be tailored to meet their storage needs and permit large attachments.

Ultimately, it is up the end user to choose the cloud based mailbox that best suites their needs. However, whatever they decide to choose, the benefits of cloud based mailboxes and email services are undeniable. Going forward, more and more companies and individuals will make the switch to cloud based email.

Prevent Data Failure with Effective Data Storage in the Cloud

A loss of data can be crippling to a business. Data failures can be costly and time consuming. How is it possible to prevent this from happening? Storing data in the cloud — while not foolproof — is one option.

It should be noted that prior to storing data in the cloud, companies have to ensure that they have an effective data model in place. That is something they need to do before they approach a cloud based company to store their data in the cloud. Not doing so could create unforeseen difficulties for them, and would compound their ability to access the services that cloud based companies have to offer. This is the responsibility of individual companies to ensure that once they start cloud computing that they reduce the risk of anything going wrong. Working with a cloud based company is a partnership and both partners have to ensure that they are doing what they can to make the partnership work.

Structure your data intelligently before storing in the cloud

In fact, proper information management in this technological age is crucial to a smooth functioning of a business. In order for data to be effectively stored in the cloud, the database must be intelligently structured prior to storing data in the cloud because having to redesign the physical structure of the database after storing data in the cloud can be time consuming and costly. Corporations need to ensure that prior to enlisting the services of the cloud that their data is protected from database failure. Once that it is done, they are ready to store their data in the cloud, and be safe in the knowledge that they can access it when they need it and that it is safe and secure.

Avoid defective data models

There may be a variety of reasons why a company’s logical data model may be defective. Some of the reasons (among other things) include a company’s failure to consider use cases of different users, a failure to use appropriate software modelling tools, and a failure to accurately and comprehensively define relationships between entities.

Safe, Mobile, Scalable and Easy

Storing data in the cloud is relatively safe and is easy to retrieve. In addition, the beauty of the cloud is that unlimited amounts of data can be stored and accessed whenever and wherever the end user requires it. In addition, if data is lost, it can be easily retrieved. Cloud companies have data recovery processes that make this possible. How to retrieve lost data can be spelled out in a business service level agreement (SLA) prior to engaging the services of a cloud based company. Spelling things out clearly is a good way to ensure there is no miscommunication.

So, before you approach a cloud based company, make sure that your data is ready for the cloud. This makes it easier for your company and for the cloud service provider, whom you beginning a new partnership with. Doing so will ensure that your cloud computing experience will be worry free.

Should the Cloud be Standardised?

Today, the cloud is not standardised. Companies operate in the cloud under different criteria. Basically, they all do their own thing without regard to what their competitors or other related companies do. Is this an effective strategy or does this lack of standardisation adversely affect the end user? If so, what can be done to streamline and harmonise the activities of cloud vendors?

Presently, we are seeing a plethora of cloud based vendors offering a variety of services ranging from financial management services, video applications, data storage and archiving, email hosting, and many other services. The cloud also allows businesses and individuals to have a virtual office, sharing and storing documents in a cost effective and time efficient manner. This is a boon for anyone wanting to do business more efficiently and cost effectively. However, cloud based vendors currently operate in a vacuum, and as a result, there are some challenges inherent in cloud computing that could be positively affected if the industry was standardised.

For example, portability, moving data from one cloud vendor to another or sharing data between cloud companies is a major impediment to more effective cloud computing. Terminating an agreement with one cloud company and moving one’s data to another vendor is another related problem. In some instances, sharing data between cloud companies has become a major issue for the end user. Such issues need to be addressed and rectified. Standardising the industry could provide a possible solution to this problem and could also have the effect of making cloud collaboration easier. Standardisation would also have the added benefit of attracting more customers to cloud based companies who would feel more confident doing business in the cloud.

Standard service agreements could also be worked out in the industry for the benefit of the end user. These agreements would ensure a seamless service, allowing the user to easily compare technologies. Data can also be migrated from cloud to cloud and files can be shared easily. In addition, as standardisation is adopted, cloud services will be able to support multi-platform technologies by default, including the latest operating systems, mobile devices, and more.

Industry wide standards could be adopted regarding these issues and could be spelled out in their service level agreements. This would ultimately benefit both the end user and the cloud computing industry.

There is a growing awareness that standardisation could lead to a more efficient and productive cloud computing industry. In fact, there are a variety of organisations that are leading the charge to standardisation. However, a lack of a cohesive strategy to standardise the industry puts it at a disadvantage. The sooner the industry addresses this issue, the better.

Privacy and the Cloud

Computing in the cloud, like any developing technology, brings up a number of issues and challenges. Storing data and computing in the cloud is a great technological advancement. However, there are many ways our data and privacy could be compromised in the cloud. What can we do to ensure that our data is protected and our privacy is not compromised?

End user’s security and privacy could be compromised in the cloud, for instance, when files and folders are infected with a virus. The cloud vendor must, therefore, ensure that its servers are not vulnerable to infections and that safeguards are in place to ensure that infections do not occur. However, in the event infection occurs, what will the cloud vendor do to rectify the situation? How will they retrieve data if it is lost or compromised? Perhaps, these kinds of issues can be described in the provider’s service level agreement (SLA) to ensure their customers that they are proactive about such issues and are willing to take action if something goes awry.

Another troubling issue in the cloud is identity theft, which can result as a result of Phishing. What is the cloud vendor doing to ensure that their client’s identity is safe? How are they educating their clients to prevent this from occurring? Phishing is a major problem that cloud vendors must be cognisant of as unscrupulous people find ways of stealing the identity of others in order to access sensitive information, like online banking credentials. This could be disastrous for a customer, and cloud vendors must ensure that proper safeguards are in place and do whatever they can to protect their clients.

Another security issue can occur if the service provider’s software is defective. You need to make sure that the software actually does what it claims by testing the service before you sign up; and also you need to perform regular tests as you go along. Defective software can result in a loss of data and money. The data owner needs to have clarity among other things, as to who can access the data. This is an important security protocol that needs to be addressed with the cloud vendor.

A simple solution to many of these and other related security and privacy issues is education and communication. Cloud vendors need to effectively communicate the dangers of some of these issues to their clients in a clear and comprehensive manner. They should be outlined in the company’s service level agreements (SLAs) and every possible effort should be made to inform their clients of the implications if they don’t take the proper steps to ensure their privacy when doing business in the cloud.

The cloud is a two way street. Cloud vendors and their clients must work together and be vigilant to ensure their data and/or privacy is not compromised.

Establishing Successful Cloud Computing Services

One method of ensuring that parties to a contract are on the same page as regards expectations and their fulfilment is the drawing up of service level agreements (SLAs). These agreements clearly specify what the vendor is willing to deliver and what the customer can expect to receive with reference to a cloud services contract. SLAs form an important management tool and are often formally negotiated and have specific metrics to quantify delivery of agreed services.

Before discussing the “how to” of establishing a successful business relationship in the cloud, let us quickly review the “bare minimum offering” in the cloud:

1. Readily available computing resources are exposed as a service;
2. The economic model is generally a pay-as-you-go service;
3. May or may not process data into meaningful contexts;
4. Limited guarantees on scalability, reliability and high availability;
5. Security systems are designed to be reasonably hacker proof;
6. Supports environmental goals by reducing carbon footprints;
7. Provides monitoring tools and metrics for evaluating services.

A quick think through, on the offerings of short listed cloud vendors, will establish the decision points for the relationship and the drafting of the SLA. The enterprise must have clarity on:

1. Whether the kind of service being offered by the vendor is the kind of service the enterprise needs?
2. Whether the definition of the “unit” measure of service is determined and can be monetised.
3. Whether the enterprise wants the service provider to process the data into meaningful contexts using compression or de-duplication technologies or it wants the data to be stored “as is where is”.
4. Whether the scalability, high availability and reliability can be truly obtained via the service. The enterprise must examine in some detail the technical claims being made by the service provider and feasibility thereof. A quick market research on the reputation of the vendor will also help in decision making.
5. Whether security guarantees are backed by industry best practises and third party certifications of cryptographic algorithms and user acceptance.
6. Whether green computing options are strictly enforced by the vendor and
7. Whether the service monitoring tools provided will truly reflect the level of service being provided by the vendor.

We, at Backup Technology, believe in working with our customers in a trustful relationship. The Service Level Agreements (SLAs) we design is guaranteed to satisfy the most stringent monitoring requirements and reflects the kind of relationship we seek to establish with our customers.

Our Customers

  • ATOS
  • Age UK
  • Alliance Pharma
  • Liverpool Football Club
  • CSC
  • Centrica
  • Citizens Advice
  • City of London
  • Fujitsu
  • Government Offices
  • HCL
  • LK Bennett
  • Lambretta Clothing
  • Leicester City
  • Lloyds Register
  • Logica
  • Meadowvale
  • National Farmers Union
  • Network Rail
  • PKR

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