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Despite the obvious benefits when it comes to scalability, connectedness, and the global sharing of information, cloud implementation still poses challenges for businesses. IT managers and other department heads should fully understand the cloud’s unique problems, and steps that can be taken to minimize or avoid challenges. Consistent issues with cloud services include internal resource and knowledge gaps, security and compliance issues, impactful performance problems, and the challenges of multiple cloud providers. Let’s take a closer look at how each of these challenges can be mitigated:
Lack of Resources and Knowledge
The cloud does remove the burden of on-premises hardware, but cloud management still requires some level of resources and a certain knowledge set. Companies need to set rules regarding the information stored in and traversing the cloud, what systems will pull cloud-based data, and other considerations. And internal staff need to find the best cloud providers and manage the overall performance of the providers. If a chosen cloud service experiences a breach or frequent accessibility problems, then staff on the client side need to recommend changes.
Security and Compliance Concerns
This is perhaps one of the biggest concerns among large enterprises who are hesitant about cloud migration. In this case a hybrid cloud-model may work best for these companies as it offers the best of both worlds.
Companies adopting the cloud, no matter which model, should consider multiple steps to improve security and lower (they can’t be eliminated) the chances of breaches:
- Encrypt data at rest in the cloud using a trusted encryption service
- Use the cloud for routine data, but store the most important and sensitive information in-house (Hybrid)
- Backup your backups. Use a separate cloud service for backups and consider on-premises non-internet-connected backups for the most important information.
- Create and adhere to strict internal procedures for accessing cloud information, especially the management console with the cloud provider.
- Instruct staff members on the dangers and typical forms of phishing schemes
- Ensure the provider itself utilizes the latest security tools and processes
Compliance concerns with PCI DSS, HIPAA, and other regulations require strict data management. Some cloud services might house your information in servers located in other countries, or the data might move between different servers. IT managers need to closely review how data in the cloud is held and then compare those procedures with the exact compliance language found in the contract and service level agreement.
Cloud services provide easier access to information, but they also add complexity, for example information might flow through multiple databases and multiple solutions. Network latency can add up to slower load times and possibly an impacted customer experience.
Companies should implement cloud monitoring services such as application performance monitoring (APM) tools and network monitoring so they can proactively alert customers and partners about performance problems and adjust resources as necessary. Many cloud performance issues are reported by end users, which results in learning about the problem when it’s too late – customers were already negatively impacted. Monitoring is important for both consumer-facing and enterprise-facing applications because it gives IT a head start on reducing the duration of any service outage.
A qualified IT consulting firm can help companies properly manage performance issues by recommending the right monitoring tools and establishing cloud and application architectures that are optimized for performance speed.
Managing Multiple Cloud Services
Multiple cloud services are often used as forms of redundancy, or perhaps certain providers are better suited to some types of data or integrations. They are sometimes purchased for a specific need and might not be based on IT’s recommendations. The problems come when integrating the data within these services into each other and various applications. Companies run the risk of “cloud sprawl” where IT dives headfirst into the cloud, placing some data here, some there, and then has a mix of cloud services under its control.
Service management tools and best practices can be implemented to reduce this complexity and ensure the decisions about cloud providers do not turn into serious errors. The best approaches will be a checklist style, where IT needs to perform due diligence before selecting a provider and moving data. Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and contacts vary from provider to provider, so IT is also charged with reviewing documentation carefully to spot any gaps or potential problems.
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