The Cloud Computing Model

The Cloud Computing Model – A Lifeline for Business in Challenging Times

Friday, March 23, 2012 | Dan Blacharski

The language of IT backup, security, disaster preparedness and business continuity can be confusing. Having a network backup procedure in place doesn't necessarily mean you also have a disaster plan, and having a disaster plan doesn't mean you also have a business continuity plan. In short, the disaster plan outlines what to do when disaster strikes, the business continuity plan outlines how to keep things moving in the aftermath.

As any CIO who has been through a fire, hurricane or earthquake can tell you, the hardest part doesn't come until days after the terrible event has already occurred. Business failure occurs less as a result of immediate loss, and more a result of the delays suffered in getting back to business as usual. With every passing day, full recovery becomes less likely.

The first mandate of disaster planning, disaster recovery and business continuity is off-site backup and "bare metal" recovery capability that allows access from any location, and full recovery of files, programs, and configuration settings.

As pointed out in Fujitsu's guide, "The white book of cloud adoption," the adoption of the cloud, particularly in relation to a business continuity plan, isn't just an IT issue. The Fujitsu study diagrams how cloud services map to IT, including business processes, corporate data, applications (with and without business logic), and servers and storage.

The financial model in disaster preparedness and business continuity differs radically from all the rest of the enterprise, if for no other reason, than you're dealing with a substantial spend on something that you hope to never use. Applying the cloud to the business continuity proposition makes sense, first because it is off-site, redundant and away from whatever impending disaster may appear, and second, because it offers inherently reduced cost of ownership and capital expenditure.

Because the cloud is rapidly transforming how IT is delivered though, cloud applies in areas far beyond backup and disaster recovery/business continuity. In addition to this layer of off-site protection, the cloud is more frequently seen as a mainstream, day-to-day tool, and having that day-to-day operation moved to the cloud eliminates a lot of the disaster preparedness and business continuity problems by design. The Fujitsu study shows that more than two-thirds of respondents would recommend cloud services, 73 percent have invested in a private cloud, and 30 percent in a shared community cloud, to take advantage of the reduced operational risk and financial flexibility o the cloud model.

Of the several concerns that companies have about deploying the cloud, one of the biggest questions is how to integrate multiple cloud providers to ensure continuity of service. In many cases, a major cloud program may mean contracting with multiple cloud vendors, and as such the diverse services must be happed to avoid any potential gaps in service; and of course service interoperability and data security must be preserved and guaranteed from each provider.
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