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To Cloud or to not Cloud: SME Guide to Cloud Computing


As cloud computing continues to infiltrate public consciousness, small businesses across the united kingdom are recognizing the advantages it brings, particularly with regard to cost savings, business agility, and security. Predictably, the conversation now's not about whether to migrate applications to the cloud, but rather, when and what the business should move to the cloud. for little businesses especially, this will be a difficult predicament, with the varied models falling under the all-encompassing ‘cloud’ label, this will be a difficult landscape for non-tech savvy business owners or managers to navigate.

Much like the crystallized water variety, man-made clouds are available of many sorts and with the various cloud models on offer within the market, each with their own advantages and drawbacks , information technology degrees it's clear that the cloud landscape is often daunting one for little businesses. the subsequent may be a guide for businesses that have outgrown on-premise servers and are taking their initiative into cloud computing.

Getting your head around the cloud

Cloud computing’ has evolved to encompass various methods of computing, but there are essentially three prevailing models within which the bulk of companies operate – public, private, and hybrid cloud.

In a public cloud, the provider offers computing resources over the web during a virtualized environment. The public cloud makes use of shared resources and will even be mentioned as shared hosting. publicly clouds, the corporate shares the server with other companies. this will have some security implications for businesses handling sensitive client data and as a result, public clouds are most fitted to sharing non-business critical or non-sensitive information like document sharing or collaboration tools. Migration of business data to a public cloud provider can significantly reduce business IT costs, whilst offering greater business agility and scalability.

In public clouds, the corporate shares the server with other companies

The majority of small businesses will take their first steps towards cloud computing by migrating this non-mission-critical data to a public cloud environment. These clouds are most suited to small to medium-sized businesses that will not need or be ready to afford the extra costs related to private clouds.

Private cloud offers additional security, with the infrastructure operated solely for one named company – the business won't share its IT infrastructure with the other companies and access are often behind a company’s firewall via a virtual private network (VPN). This model is usually mentioned as a bare metal dedicated server, with the extra security benefits making it the perfect destination for sensitive business data. Private clouds are most useful for organizations handling private information or have regulatory obligations to stay their data under their control, whilst requiring the computing benefits afforded by the general public cloud, like business agility and scalability.

Private clouds are most useful for organizations handling private information

Due to the extra benefits of the private cloud, costs are going to be higher for businesses employing this model. Data like checking account details, private customer details, and tax information should be migrated to a personal cloud environment instead of a public cloud.

As are often guessed, a hybrid cloud may be a combination of public and personal cloud offering the value savings related to the public cloud, with the extra security of a personal cloud, but also can include on-premise infrastructure. Companies utilizing hybrid clouds manage some resources in the house while others are provided externally. These clouds remain separate entities, although working together to fulfill the business’s computing needs. Businesses can migrate the sensitive information to a personal cloud environment or keep this data on-premise, whilst more basic applications can be hosted during a public cloud environment, but these must communicate seamlessly to make sure the end-user isn't affected.

Are you ready for the cloud?

As any small business grows, it'll inevitably outgrow its on-premise servers as these are often expensive to take care of, but how does the business owner or manager know when the time is true to migrate applications to the cloud? within the majority of cases, the migration to cloud computing is going to be driven by the three factors above: cost, flexibility, and security. These are the problems that will determine what model cloud the business selects and what applications to migrate to the cloud. Whilst ultimately, the choice of cloud migration will depend largely on the business and therefore the industry it operates in, business owners and managers shouldn't feel daunted by the prospect of cloud migration. Preparing for cloud migration today could help avoid stormy seas tomorrow.

From CIO to Technology Hunter: Turning innovative thought into reality within the enterprise

The modern CIO is liable for a huge number of business decisions. Many of those require the liberty to think strategically about how technology can enable the business to grow and remain agile. Historically, it’s been the CIO that’s steered the business through new challenges – like the introduction of the web or, more recently, catering to an increasingly mobile workforce. The CIO is left with a choice: Choose the familiarity of well-known technology, or make educated decisions about potential risks posed by change.

In today’s enterprise environments, the onset of the cloud alongside an increasing number of SaaS applications has meant that it’s made sense for businesses to believe third parties to manage their data or undertake essential maintenance functions of their infrastructure. This expanding IT eco-system can sometimes leave the CIO feeling powerless to form strategic decisions – instead, they're left feeling pressured to form the foremost ‘cost-effective’ choice so as to tick the company box.

This outsourcing of functions and processes alongside the expansion of cloud computing has led to a change in authority over data. CIOs are adapting to a replacement sort of leadership. Gone are the times of holding the keys to a physical server. The IT world is changing and thereupon comes many opportunities for CIOs willing to embrace their new role.

As a part of our work, we’re in-tuned with thousands of CIOs in multinational companies of all sizes, during a range of industries. Over the years we’ve witnessed changes within the role of the CIO. Originally, the CIO was liable for automation, also as management and operation of the company’s processes. Today, this is often a prerequisite, but not enough to survive within the new world.

The CIO as “Head Technology Hunter”

Today’s CIOs must be focused on developing technology-empowered business strategies. albeit the corporate isn’t an ‘Early Adapter’, the CIO must be at the forefront of technology and must be the one who brings the corporate thereto point.

They are liable for business outcomes no but the other member of the board. Leading a business is not any longer about that specialize in operational systems, it's about analyzing and identifying market trends, generating knowledge and insights, forecasting causes and effects of business activities, and finding and implementing systems that will proactively advance the corporate. for instance, the CIO can initiate a fanatical system that will identify and issue a warning about dissatisfied customers which may leave within the future, or a system that monitors changes in customer behavior.

It’s the CIO’s job to be the professional umbrella

Unfortunately, this revolution hasn’t happened everywhere. There are many obstacles preventing CIOs from implementing these principles. Often it's because they're busy putting out fires and taking care of ongoing maintenance of data systems rather than looking for innovations. Sometimes the added value the CIO can give the corporate has got to be acknowledged. It’s the CIO’s job to be the professional umbrella, the author for promoting everything linked to technology and in possession of a broad vision of company needs and appropriate solutions.

Changing the interior perception of the CIO

CIO’s place within the organization is additionally changing. The role is often perceived as an IT Strategy Leader. VPS of sales or marketing is not any longer the sole one liable for the company’s results. The IT manager should be the CEO’s aide-de-camp in expanding the corporate. The CIO must identify trends inside and out of doors the corporate, to define new initiatives, and to get any barriers or problems involving the company’s automation and therefore the advanced capabilities that information systems enable.

The CIO should harness technology knowledge from other key players within the organization. there's no reason why the initiative to shop for a replacement application shouldn’t come from any of the company’s departments, especially since the interior customer’s understanding of technology is so high today. Non-IT managers, like marketing and HR, are always on the lookout for brand spanking new technological tools to spend their time within the most effective way – then the CIO must utilize this data and collaborate with other executives to pick new technologies. However, only the IT manager has the broad, professional vision necessary to make a decision. If systems are incompatible, reporting becomes complex or almost impossible. this is often where leadership on the part of the CIO comes in.

Streamlining systems and creating time to think

The good news for CIOs is that business management systems are evolving even further to support their role as a ‘Technology Hunter.’ Firstly, so as to release the CIO to require the company’s technology strategy to the subsequent level, it’s important to possess a reliable, integrative, and straightforward to work system with all of the company’s information in one place. A system which is hospitable to new integrations but also capable of keeping data integrative will confirm that data is consistent, and managed in a flexible and responsive way.

Secondly, CIOs needn't fear putting their business management system within the cloud. one of the most issues is concerns of losing control over different aspects of system management, like upgrades. Large companies that are bound by regulations are scared of this process and steel oneself against it by strict backups and tests. this is often where private cloud works best within the initial stage: on one hand, they free themselves of maintenance responsibilities, but on the opposite hand they still have an inexpensive amount of control.

Thirdly, a serious demand for data systems today from the C-Suite is to supply the power to draw conclusions and even deliver business insights. IT systems today are asked to include intelligence abilities that not only analyze past performance, but generate forecasts and make recommendations to managers supported this sort of predictive analysis. Intelligent technology at this level forms the idea of a robust and resilient IT department and successively frees up time for both the CIO and IT staff to focus their efforts on exciting projects which are targeted at growing the business and staying before the competition. What is ISO 27001 and why do I want it? 

When it involves data security, there's a wealth of standards that you simply got to meet so as to realize compliance. this will be quite confusing as understanding ISO certification are often difficult, especially at face value. 

To make this simpler for you, here’s a fast roundup of ISO 27001.     What is ISO 27001? Put simply, ISO 27001 may be a specification for an information security management system (ISMS). It’s a model of working for frameworks surrounding the legal, physical, and technical controls that are used when processing an organization’s information risk management.

This standard provides complete guidance, covering everything from establishing and implementing the framework to the way during which it's operated and monitored. It even recommends ways to take care of and improve your systems.

ISO 27001 works employing a top-down, risk-based approach. It generates scope, taking into consideration the context of the organization, planning and analyzing processes, current performance, and addresses the findings to point out where improvements are often made.

It is important to notice that ISO 27001 doesn't work independently

Using ISO 27001

It is important to notice that ISO 27001 doesn't work independently. Instead, it requires input by management to look at the safety risks present and take the acceptable actions supported the threats and vulnerabilities present. Management will need to create and implement their own security controls or other sorts of risk management, i.e. risk avoidance or risk transfer, to deal with the issues present.

The best practice is to adopt an overarching security management process that's ISO 27001 approved. This ensures that your security controls meet the specified standards needed for your organization on an ongoing basis.

However, even with a system like this in situ, you'll still get to take manual action from time to time to reply to threats and make improvements and changes to the system. Security controls are vital, therefore it's vital that you simply take the required time to make sure that your system runs as efficiently as possible.

Why gain certification?

There are many benefits to be had through certification compliance. one of the foremost obvious benefits is that this shows that your organization takes its information security management seriously. Having an independent assessment adds extra weight to the present.

Any organization looking to figure in an environment where secure file transfers are a priority will favor other organizations that are certified ISO 27001 compliant. This states that the ISMS in situ is compliant and there are measures being taken, on a daily basis, to make sure that it's as safe as possible.

How fast am I able to get ISO 27001 Certification?

Unfortunately, there's no set answer because the time it takes to realize certification depends very strongly on your existing circumstances. If you're using software and programs that have already got ISO 27001 certification, then you'll only get to change the way during which your business operates to realize compliance – typically this may take between 5 and 9 months.

However, if there are not any measures currently in situ then this will take for much longer. you'll get to implement new programs, perform a risk assessment, address issues, and alter your day-to-day practice so as to satisfy the standards.

At this stage, it could take up to 2 years to realize certification. If you’re looking to realize this standard as quickly and efficiently as possible, you'll need: The right tools to watch and evaluate your security A strong decide to assess and score risk To tailor the quality to your organization’s needs raining across the board to figure to ISO 27001 values and best practice Don’t be postpone by the time and costs of this certification, this process doesn't get to be complicated. With the proper guidance and proper tools, you'll find that achieving certification is well within your grasp.

Big Data: from Investment to Business as was common 

Hotels.com is one of the world’s leading online booking services. the corporate has many thousands of bookable properties available worldwide, over 15 million Hotels.com Rewards members, and over 14 million genuine customer reviews. Hotels.com’s success may be a result of hitting the zeitgeist. call center technology the location offers customers a broad choice, reliable technology, and an intuitive user interface; creative marketing; and – perhaps surprisingly – a state-of-the-art data application and analysis platform. But, how can Big Data help to make a successful online booking service?

One of the foremost important success metrics for a web booking platform is to supply customers with a superb user and booking experience that's independent of the devices they're using or where they're. the continual improvement of Hotels.com’s usability is predicated on analysis from various sources including clickstreams, reviews, personal preferences of users, and hotel profiles. App developers are ready to improve the interface and therefore the algorithms behind the booking procedure by understanding the customer journey beyond only one session. The in-depth knowledge gained allows Hotels.com to supply consumers with personalized user experience and custom-made recommendations.

As an early adopter of advanced and predictive data analytics, Hotels.com is sharing a number of its findings to offer CIOs suggestions on the way to carry through Big Data projects. It’s one thing to know the principles of massive Data, but seeing industry projects running well could inspire CIOs. Hotels.com’s Big Data experience should function as a hit story for the industry. 

Choose the proper platform

We all know that the proper technology platform makes or breaks an IT project; an equivalent is often applied to Big Data solutions. But how can we make the proper choice? A technology decision should be supported by a radical assessment of business needs and deciding what may benefit from data analysis within the future. CIOs shouldn’t focus purely on investment costs when choosing the technology. The evaluation should also include performance, reliability, usability, data security, and – this is often vital – scalability.

After weighing up all the pros and cons, Hotels.com chose Datastax Enterprise as its online data platform, which is predicated on the open-source Apache Cassandra NoSQL database. this enables Hotels.com to profit from features like built-in management services, extra security measures, and external Hadoop integration that enhances the features of a pure open-source solution freed from charge. We also enjoy Datastax’s support, maintenance, and update services. That leaves us liberal to specialize in data analysis and supporting the Hotels.com business.

Get the bosses on board

A Big Data project requires both investment and cross-company collaboration: silo thinking might be an obstacle to long-term success. The main goal for Hotels.com, for instance, was to interrupt down the barriers between the web world of our booking platform and therefore the offline world with our data warehouse solution at its heart. This required a huge change in entrenched processes.

We found that the simplest thanks to getting backing from the bosses were to prove that we could achieve a fast return on investment (ROI). To demonstrate this we collected quite 150 business use cases that might be possible with the proposed platform. We then selected a subset of 10, which was suited to illustrating a symbol of concept within a narrow time-frame . Seeing our proposed platform delivering quick wins helped to convince the board and served as a stepping stone to tougher use cases.

Data privacy comes first

Customer trust may be a precious commodity

Customer trust may be a precious commodity and respect for data privacy is one important key to success. Therefore CIOs should make sure that their Big Data strategy is carefully balanced with a commitment to guard customer data security. The use of anonymization is significant to guard every user’s privacy, especially when analyzing large quantities of aggregated data.

Make data analysis business as was common 

Regarding cost, time, and organizational restraints, project leaders should keep sight of long-term development to create a reliable, efficient, and future proof platform. Scalability is a crucial component in the long-term getting to make sure that the technology platform is in a position to stay pace with the ever-increasing flood of structured and unstructured data.

CIOs should start to integrate the analytics processes into everyday business once the platform has been established and first use cases have yielded results. only this has become business as was common should IT and data teams address new projects to advance the company’s business even further.

More than analytics

Big Data is closely linked to data analytics, but Hotels.com’s Big Data platform goes far beyond that. one of the foremost important uses of knowledge is to deliver a cross-device user experience for multiple screens and independent from where they're . On the one hand Hotels.com analyses user data so as to work out which devices are getting used . On the opposite hand, the specific user has been checking out on the company’s booking platform and to make sure that customers are recognized on any device, in order that they will devour where they left off in their look for a hotel. cloud computing technology this enables users to start trying to find accommodation, for instance , on a tablet while traveling by train, before confirming the booking on a desktop reception without the necessity to start out the booking journey again. this is often just one example of how booking experience and make it as personal as possible.