Helping clients manage their technology for over 30 years.

Cloud Computing best practice: Conduct a Cloud feasibility assessment

guy holding a piece of paper with a cloud and servers on it.

Not all IT activities are right for Cloud computing. What’s more, you may not have the basic elements you need (such as a sufficiently robust network environment) for Cloud computing. And the last thing you need is to learn those uncomfortable truths after you’ve committed to a Cloud project.

This is why conducting a Cloud feasibility assessment is so important. And unless you have Cloud computing expertise on staff, don’t try to do it alone.

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Essential SLA Elements #3 and #4: Monitoring, enforcement, and change mechanisms

A good service-level agreement looks simple — but that’s because it’s been conscientiously negotiated to meet the buyer’s needs. Of the five essential SLA elements that every managed and cloud services customer should focus on, I’ve described two — specifying service functionality and describing the infrastructure and standards to be maintained by the provider.

Essential SLA Elements #3 concerns SLA changes. Your SLA should include a mechanism by which you can regularly tune it in response to changing business conditions or new technologies. You’ll benefit from building in a formal review of your SLA (at least annually) in order to use experience and new information to revise it.

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Essential SLA Element #2: The devil’s in the details

I’ve already blogged about the importance of negotiating a service-level agreement that specifies the functionality of the managed and cloud services you engage.

Now I’m going to focus on Essential SLA Element #2: Including details about the system, network, and security infrastructure and standards to be maintained for your services by the provider.

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Essential SLA Element #1: Why specifying each service to be provided is critical

I see five essential elements that you absolutely need to pay attention to in your managed and cloud services SLAs. I’ll review each of them in my blog, starting with: Specifying each service to be provided.

This may seem obvious, and, in fact, it is. Yet too many service-level agreements are surprising vague about what exactly you’re buying.

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Your SLA: Forgotten secret to getting the most from your cloud provider

To get the most out of your managed or cloud service, you need to invest the time in negotiating a good service-level agreement.

The SLA is a key part of the contract between you and your provider, since it describes the levels of service being provided and the metrics used to ensure your provider delivers full value. And the right SLA with the right service provider can mitigate cloud risks and help your business flourish.

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2 tricks that can deliver the right service provider treats

It’s a 21st-century truth that even small businesses need complex information technology infrastructures to thrive. Which is why so many enterprises, both large and small, depend on the expertise of independent providers of managed and cloud services.

But using managed and cloud services can be risky, too. How reliable is the service? Where’s your data? And what about security?

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Infrastructure security and coping with cloud and social media: 9 key questions to ask

Our chief technical officer, Mike Dillon, estimates that the number of infected sites is growing by 20% to 25% a year. “If your company is shifting more toward cloud services and hasn’t addressed security, you will be attacked,” he says.

So here are the (non-technical) questions you need to ask and get answered to protect your business:
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6 security questions to ask about your data and who gets access to it

It’s easy to tumble backwards into information security, to let yourself get sidetracked into arcane, hard-to-follow discussions about the innards of technologies and products when in fact you need to be thinking through higher-level strategy and policy.

If, for instance, you don’t actually know yet whether your business would benefit from using encryption, listening to the sales pitches of competing encryption product vendors is a waste of time.

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Security that works starts with the right business decisions

Effective information security is gravity-fed: It starts at the top and works its way down, always beginning with a strategy explicitly designed to protect business value. That strategy then gets implemented via an over-arching security policy or plan.

Developing information security strategy and policy centers on making the right business decisions. Once you do that, what seems the most daunting part of information security — choosing the appropriate technologies — becomes much more transparent.

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Step 1 to mastering business IT disruptions: Back up your data — NOW!

If you haven’t already done it, don’t delay. Back up your organization’s critical information and files to a secure remote location from which they can be recovered online 24/7. Here’s what’s involved:

  • Know about your data (as well as those applications that may be difficult to reconstruct should you lose them) — what you have, where it is, who “owns” it, how important it is. And don’t forget email.
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