Five considerations when considering cloud computing architectures

An excellent starting point for an organization looking at cloud computing platforms is to examine their IT architectures. Only by aligning the architecture – computers, networks, data center, power and storage resources – with applications can a company be on the way to achieving the reliability and performance it requires in a cloud environment.

In cloud computing, true protection is the result of the right architecture for the right application. Organizations need to fully understand their individual application requirements and, if using a cloud platform, the corresponding cloud architecture. With this knowledge, they can make informed decisions about which cloud platform best meets the reliability and performance requirements of their specific applications.

Here are five considerations for companies looking at cloud computing architectures.

Availability. Not all applications are created equal, nor are all cloud platforms the same. Organizations need to sort their applications and identify which applications should be highly accessible, which can accept downtime and how much downtime is acceptable. They need to understand the business risk associated with a lack of availability of their data. For those applications that need to be widely available, companies need to consider enterprise-class technologies that have been closely tested in terms of looking at building something in-house. It is also important to look at multi-site solutions and disaster recovery / business continuity planning. For most companies, it means working with a service provider or consultant because they usually have access to greater levels of expertise and provide these services as their core business.

Security. Security is still the primary concern of companies regarding the cloud. Concerns include loss of control over their sensitive data, the risks associated with a multi-tenant environment, and how to address standards and compliance. Organizations need to know how a multi-tenant shared environment is segmented to prevent customer duplication. How is the solution archived and is the service provider’s cloud infrastructure – networking, virtualization and storage platforms – secure?

Administration. Businesses need to understand what they are responsible for what they expect from a service provider. Most public cloud providers do not provide administrative support. Organizations must either have the technical expertise internally to design the right solution or seek the services of an external provider. There must be an understanding of what level of management their applications require and have an identified change management process.

Performance. As with a more traditional hosting model, it is important to understand the workload requirements on the infrastructure. Businesses also need to understand what the bottlenecks are and how the cloud architecture they have or evaluate can meet those needs. Organizations must conduct their own testing to understand how a cloud environment affects computing, storage and network resources.

Compliance. Organizations need to understand where their data lies, as well as who will interact with them and how. They need to understand what areas of compliance the service provider controls and how they can control the standards and regulations they need to adhere to.