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What to Consider When Using a Cloud or Managed Service Provider

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Workloads are getting bigger. To manage all of this information and application data, businesses have a few options: store workloads on a company-owned server, tap the storage space of a managed service provider (MSP) or go with a hybrid model that combines a private, on-premises cloud with an MSP.

So, how does a business decide? “There’s no black or white, nor an absolute right or wrong answer,” says Laura DiDio, principal, Information Technology Intelligence Consulting (ITIC), a Massachusetts-based technology consultancy and research firm. As an industry analyst, DiDio offers insights on the considerations and caveats organizations should weigh when deciding how to manage their workloads.

Know Thyself

Recent changes in IT and data storage affect the ways nearly all businesses operate their IT functions.

The problem of sufficient storage space, for example, is fairly new, DiDio notes. In the early dot-com days, the internet seemed to easily accommodate all of the bits and bytes generated online. But in the past 10 to 20 years—the big data era—more workloads have been offloaded or outsourced into the cloud. “I don’t know of any shrinking applications,” DiDio says. And as workloads increase, many organizations are running out of physical space for additional servers.

“If you’re going to remain competitive and ensure a smoothly running organization, your IT system must incorporate high reliability, high availability, strong security and encryption.”
—Laura DiDio, principal, Information Technology Intelligence Consulting

Some small and midsized businesses (SMBs) also have limited resources to devote to IT. Why build an on-premises private cloud when an outside vendor can provide the same types of services at a lower cost?

To decide whether to keep all workloads in-house or move some of them to an outside MSP, determine what your enterprise needs, both now and in the future.

Make an Assessment

“Every organization, regardless of vertical market, must perform a thorough analysis and review of what its workloads look like,” DiDio says. Assess your IT environment by measuring how many servers it has and how much bandwidth it’s consuming. She advises constructing a three- to five-year plan that anticipates any and all possible disruptions, changes and growth possibilities. “Otherwise, you’ll be hanging a going-out-of-business sign.”

Then, check your needs in terms of the budget and technological expertise of your IT staff. All of your organization’s technology stakeholders must be involved in creating this deep dive into the business—C-level executives, network administrators, facilities people, and the company’s telecom and connectivity professionals.

“A lot depends on what’s going on at the level of expertise and support you have in your internal IT department,” DiDio explains. “If you’re going to remain competitive and ensure a smoothly running organization, your IT system must incorporate high reliability, high availability, strong security and encryption.”

Besides talking with your IT managers to determine whether your company has the experience and head count to accomplish these tasks, talk to your developers. If, for example, a company hopes to build a custom application—it could be one targeting a specific vertical, such as a specialized medical accounting application—its staff might have the expertise but not the time to test and retest the application. The servers must be robust enough to accommodate current and future workloads, and the company needs the physical space to accommodate additional servers and racks if necessary. A lack of server space—along with a lack of funding to add such space—can delay release of a groundbreaking, money-making product by weeks or months.

Gene Rebeck is a freelance writer based in Duluth, Minnesota.


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