The Role of Cloud Brokers in the Cloud

As cloud computing grows and people (and companies) start using multiple cloud based accounts, there is a growing need to streamline their accounts or port their data over from one cloud to another. Cloud brokers can help with this task, but do they provide a definitive answer to this dilemma?

These days, many people have more than one cloud based accounts and may want to link up their data from the various cloud based services that they have. Or, perhaps they might want to transfer their applications and virtual services over from one cloud service provider to another. In addition, they may wish to discontinue their service with one cloud vendor in favour of another. Essentially, they want an account that is portable that allows them to easily move between cloud vendors. However, this can present a variety of problems because different cloud vendors may have different standards, making it difficult to make the switch smoothly.

Cloud brokers have stepped into this breach to offer services to take resources from different clouds and making them available so that end users can access them as if they were one; and not numerous clouds. These cloud brokers act as a technological middlemen between cloud based services. The cloud broker facilitates a dialogue between several clouds that the end user interacts with. However, it is the cloud broker and not the end user who will act on their behalf as a go between; and the advantage to the end user is that they will not have to interact with multiple cloud vendors. This is certainly a beneficial service.

Even though cloud brokers offer a necessary service, it is not a foolproof solution to the question of portability because it does not address some fundamental or underlying problems in the cloud vendor industry. What is needed is a common standard between cloud based companies to make it easier for consumers to port their data and services over from one company to another. Currently, many organisations (like the Cloud Security Alliance and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute) are being formed (some already operating) to examine how this can be done and how common industry standards can be developed among all cloud based companies. But, will the industry embrace these standards?

In the meantime, cloud brokers are a reasonable solution providers, but ultimately, developing standards for all cloud vendors that make it easy for users to transfer their services, and data from one vendor to another is the best solution. Until that time, cloud brokers provide a reasonable interim solutions.

The Challenges of Cloud Computing and How to Overcome them

Cloud computing is not without its challenges. All new technologies suffer from growing pains and Cloud computing is no exception. There are a number of issues that can arise when Cloud computing. However, the benefits of Cloud computing far outweigh the disadvantages. It is a cutting edge technology that, like any new technology, has growing pains as it continues to be tweaked and improved.

Like any new technology that is still developing, Cloud computing can develop glitches that need to be taken care of. Interoperability of a Cloud can be a huge setback for a business. However, standardisation organisations are currently developing solutions to deal with this problem, and while not foolproof, are a step in the right direction. Application delivery can be a challenge and sometimes whole codes have to be ripped and replaced to make it happen. But, you do not need to worry — your Cloud vendor will work with you to resolve any issues that you may have. So, despite the challenges there are many benefits that can be derived from Cloud computing.

In fact, the beauty of Cloud computing is that you do not have to buy new equipment and you do not have to worry about a making a huge outlay of cash. Cloud computing is essentially is a “pay as you go” service. You only pay for what you use and you don’t own the technology, you just use it. In addition, you always have access to the Cloud except in those rare instances when there is down time. If you need them, support services can be tailored to meet your needs, whatever those may be so that help is always available if you need it. No matter what your needs are, rest assured they will be taken care of.

Cloud services and Cloud technology are constantly improving. They are also becoming more sophisticated. One of the most exciting developments is the applications which offer opportunities for employees to interact and collaborate with their colleagues in remote locations. This is a helpful tool that not only allows companies to be more inclusive, but more productive as well. Employees that are part of Cloud collaboration feel like they are part of a team. So, this is a huge advantage that Cloud computing can offer to businesses. There are also a variety of services that can be included in a Cloud computing package, such as video conferencing, webinars and emails.

Despite some of the challenges Cloud computing has faced in the past, it has come a long way. As times goes on, it will continue to improve, and become more sophisticated. It is a technology that has infinite possibilities and the future is very bright for Cloud computing.

The Benefits of Cloud Collaboration

Cloud collaboration has in the past been generally driven for the most part by IT business users. In fact, a recent Forbes Insight survey “Collaborating in the Cloud”* sponsored by Cisco conducted a survey of more than 500 executives which revealed among other things, that most business executives felt that Cloud collaboration could benefit their business for a variety of reasons. However, Cloud collaboration is not only beneficial to IT business users, but can also benefit non-IT personnel as well and ultimately can benefit the customer.

Cloud collaboration can benefit the needs of all employees both IT personnel and non-IT personnel because it can enhance the efficiency of an organization’s communications and collaboration capabilities. This benefits all employees as well as the companies clients and customers. For instance, Cloud collaboration enables organisations to make collaborative decision-making, which involves non-IT personnel. It enables an organisation to engage and include remote and mobile employees, who might not otherwise be included as part of the decision-making process, as well as customers and suppliers. So, because of its inclusiveness, Cloud collaboration can be used by organisations as a great team and morale building tool.

Cloud Collaboration also enhances the ability of a company to distinguish themselves from the competition. In addition, it helps a company to be more flexible and innovative and helps them to streamline its decision-making process. Therefore, thanks to Cloud collaboration, companies can be more decisive and proactive which benefits them in long run. Not only will the company benefit from Cloud Collaboration, but so will the company’s customers.

Cloud Collaboration can benefit consumers because as a converged technology, it integrates voice, video, mobility and other applications, which are compatible with a variety of devices. The service can be offered as part of a cloud computing package, and since it is delivered over the cloud, it is inexpensive as there is no capital investment required, and takes no time to get it up and running. Cloud collaboration also benefits the customer because it allows businesses to collaborate more effectively with them, as well as making it easier for purchasers and suppliers to collaborate with each other by streamlining the communication process. This allows them to offer their products and services to the customer more efficiently and helps them to create more products that meet their needs.

Cloud collaboration is a win-win for everyone from IT and non-IT personnel to producers, suppliers and customers. It is an incredibly effective communication and team building tool which helps to open a world of possibilities to anyone who uses it.

* Source: http://www.forbes.com/forbesinsights/Cisco_Cloud_Business/

What is Behind the Real Innovations in the Clouds?

If you are one of those who nod sagely and declare that the cloud is evolution and not revolution–you are right, but not completely right! While cloud computing features are evolving and gaining definition on stage, the real revolution is in the pricing structures that are emerging backstage, unnoticed and uncelebrated.

The driver behind the revolution is “larger volumes at lower costs”. The catalyst is the increasing reliability, scalability, reach-ability and high availability of Internet applications. The focus is on delivering Software as a Service (SaaS) or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS) to the budget strapped user—the individual or the small and medium enterprise or the large enterprise seeking to lower costs for profitability.

How does the cloud achieve larger volumes at lower costs? Most costs associated with backup and storage is directly attributable to costs of hardware and software. Storage needs burgeon with every passing minute and existing infrastructure is quickly gobbled up by increasing data volumes. Tiered storage does not resolve the problem as infrastructure scale-up-demands become incessant within the enterprise. Capital investment restrictions throttle scale-up and compromises on data availability become inevitable.

Cloud backup and storage breaks the vicious cycle. Enterprises now sign up for ‘storage’ as a utility. They share hardware and software with countless other similarly placed enterprises creating economies of scale. The resultant cost savings get passed back to them reducing the overall costs of computing. It is for this reason that the cloud storage has been described as a process of micro outsourcing. The cloud runs multi-million dollar data centres using a fine grained, incremental approach. Thousands of companies across the globe can quickly tap into common resources and obtain expertise/support for complicated operations.

The process of abstracting hardware and software to the cloud-vendor-data-centre is infinite scalability on demand, higher reliability and availability of information, automatic deployment disaster recovery protocols, utility based computing with pay as you go pricing and reduction in data maintenance costs with no fresh financial outlays! It is win-win all the way! Enterprises do not have to compromise on the quality, security or availability of data and can connect their diverse locations “loosely” using the central data repository as the connecting link at no additional cost.

It is, therefore, not surprising that the pricing models that emerges with the new computing paradigm are revolutionary, completely affordable and attractive to everyone. It is a subtle revolution that cannot be ignored.

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

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  • LK Bennett
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  • Leicester City
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