The rapidly shifting digital economy has forced businesses to reinvent the ways in which they operate — internally and externally. For IT companies, according to Accenture, the way to work and be successful with cloud innovations will “fundamentally change” based on the “notion of everything as a service.”
Accenture’s Eric Brown pointed out the impacts new technologies, including big data and connected devices, will have on IT, such as managing huge amounts of data and demand for 24/7 support. However, changes have already occurred in the cloud space, where there is demand that IT companies learn new consumption-based models.
“There are a lot of nuances that actually go into how to truly drive a consumption-based model,” said Brown.
Brown said that means looking into IT companies’ operations and understanding how that business consumes services from its own providers.
“The provider space, specifically in the cloud — and public cloud where it’s a true utility-type model — not all of the services and the consumption models associated with those are the same. A lot of care and time needs to be put into this to understand how each of the models interact, and interact with your business and enable your business,” Brown said.
Brown said the new consumption models around cloud is “ushering in a new way to look at IT” and “fundamentally changing how we operate.”
Perhaps even more importantly, successful consumption models enable speed and agility for IT companies — boosting a company’s overall performance and value as a service provider.
In which region/country is my data stored?
Many cloud providers have data centers deployed across multiple regions. The physical distance between the user and the data center, even in high bandwidth connections, still matters because of network latency. High latency causes data transfers to time out and applications to break down, so one would always prefer to have the data stored in one’s own region. Additionally, other considerations for companies that are spread out over multiple regions (e.g., North America and Europe) would require data to be replicated across multiple regions. This is also sometimes done for redundancy or disaster recovery purposes.
Service-Provider Legal Residence
In which country is my cloud provider registered?
Data residency, or where the data is physically stored, is not the only aspect influencing sovereignty. Even if the data is stored in your own country but the provider hosting it is a company subject to foreign laws, your data may be accessible to foreign governments under various laws of information disclosure, or it may be disclosed to certain parties in case of a lawsuit. Check your service provider’s legal status if it’s important to you not to have your data exposed to such disclosures.
Data Center Best Practices
In what type of data center(s) is my data stored?
It’s important to know that industry-standard security best practices are being applied to your data storage, and that includes both IT security as well as physical security measures. Details like 24/7 surveillance, anti-fire systems and multi-factor authentication for entry are to be expected. There are various types of certification for data centers that audit data centers to ensure compliance with best practices.
In what type of tenancy model is my data stored?
There’s a difference between the multi-tenancy model of public cloud, and the model now popularly called Virtual Private Cloud or VPC. In the normal multi-tenancy model, data is stored in the same logical system or “bucket” with other organizations’ data, and access to it is governed by access control mechanisms.
With a VPC, your data is stored in logically separate, fenced-off infrastructure that can be made accessible only via your VPN. This makes the VPC as secure as your own private data center environment, so even if access control mechanisms fail, your data can never be mixed with other data. By default, this also means you can encrypt your data with your own keys, and control every aspect of an encryption policy.
In what storage format is my data stored?
Common storage formats (both in and out of the cloud) include block, file and object storage. Cloud storage typically includes some variation of all three, but they are utilized for different purposes and applications. For most file services such as backup, file sync and share, as well as for storage of large amounts of unstructured data, object is the preferred format – for both its massive scalability and cost-efficiency. AWS S3 is an object storage system, as is OpenStack Swift.
Normally, storage format is not something cloud users need to concern themselves with – but if there are cost concerns and scalability expectations and you are using one of the lesser-known cloud providers, it is wise to verify the suitability of storage format to your needs.
How deep is your love for data?
Not everyone needs to dig through all these layers, but it’s good to know they exist. Cloud providers are not responsible for your data – you are. For best practices, use these questions as your checklist and revisit them every six months to make sure your data is still located where it should be and that you are meeting compliance requirements. Demystifying cloud storage to understand where your data really lives and how it affects data governance, security, integrity, sovereignty and compliance can remove some of the obstacles in adopting “the cloud” in an optimal way.
In the last few years, “the cloud” has become a household term, yet it’s not always as well understood as you might think. Used in this popular singular form, “the cloud” suggests that there really is a single, nebulous entity where computing resources and endless data storage magically reside. Of course, the reality is that the cloud is a network of data centers, and within those, a network of servers and storage nodes. The real mystery begins when organizations start taking a closer look at the cloud’s inner workings, asking such questions as: Where exactly does my cloud data live?
Understandably, many organizations are still wary of placing their sensitive data anywhere but in their own data centers. In that case, they know exactly where the data resides. However, there are reasons why enterprises – even in regulated industries – would want to use external cloud services – a move that doesn’t necessarily mean they lose sight and control of their data. In this slideshow, CTERA outlines five questions organizations need to ask before moving data to the cloud.
Leverage Mobile Devices and Cloud Solutions
In the past, printing was limited to jobs sent from traditional computing devices. Sending print jobs from only desktop PC’s can cost valuable time. Most business users today are mobile. Companies can often realize efficiencies by deploying mobile printing devices and apps. Many modern printers and free software utilities, such as Apple AirPrint™ and Google Cloud Print™, allow wireless printing from popular smartphones and tablets.
Use Software Solutions for Cost Recovery and Security
Output management software can help control costs and reduce paper usage. Organizations can frequently maximize cost savings and productivity through print management/cost recovery solutions to automate a range of print, copy, and scan tasks including usage tracking, cost allocation, quota setting/enforcement, secure printing, and job redirect with reporting.
Explore Industry-Specific Applications
Consider industry-specific applications to help improve processes, compliance and security. For example, health care organizations can deploy software that securely integrates printing and scanning with electronic medical records (EMR) or claims management systems, enabling sensitive data to be securely communicated with the appropriate people.
Assess Today’s Needs, Not Yesterday’s
Assess your environment and acquire technology for today’s needs, not yesterday’s. Avoid leasing or buying expensive super-sized machines with unnecessary options. A3 printing (11×17) is estimated to only account for approximately 2 percent of all office print jobs. Do you need all your devices to be able to print and copy up to 11 x 17? Also, most print jobs are five pages or fewer, print volume has come down across many industries. Ask your users if they are still handing out sets of stapled and hole-punched documents. Do they need costly finishing options attached to these devices? Finally, less-complicated devices can also reduce service and support demands and costs.
Place Devices Closer to Employees
Place devices closer to employees for happier workers and increased productivity. A copier/printer location is critical to maximizing cost savings. Poor allocation of printing devices can drain corporate profits, in some cases wasting nearly $130,000 per year in long walks to and from this technology. Place required devices within 25 to 35 feet of every workgroup to optimize savings.
IT leaders often spend time evaluating new technologies with the goal of implementing a more efficient computing environment. At the same time, they are also looking for opportunities for savings. One area that traditionally has been neglected is the potential cost savings associated with printers and copiers. Managed properly, these network devices can often present many opportunities for IT to help reduce printing costs and conserve budgets.
Beyond the simple overhead expenses of help desk calls, ink/toner/paper and electricity, poor printing strategies can put the squeeze on the bottom line by wasting employee time. A recent survey conducted by Clarus Research Group shows that employees at offices with centralized copier/printers spend, on average, an additional three minutes each day on printing. This could cost businesses an extra 13 hours per year of lost productivity just walking to the printer. In this slideshow, Dan Waldinger, director, Services and Solutions Marketing, Brother International Corporation, has identified techniques IT can utilize to potentially curb the losses and save hours of otherwise lost productivity.
About the Author
Dan Waldinger is the director, Services and Solutions Marketing, Brother International Corporation. With more than 25 years of industry experience, Mr. Waldinger leads the Brother SMB initiative, Don’t Supersize. Optimize. Under his leadership, Brother provides resources, self-assessment tools and solutions for SMBs to reduce document-related costs and increase efficiencies.
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