Cloud Ready?

This handy Q&A will help you determine if you and your customers are ready for cloud services

Bates: There are four steps: first, if your cloud is offsite or public in nature, existing infrastructure and resources may be redundant, therefore it makes sense to divest yourself of unneeded technology and find a skilled partner. I call this “Divestment and Partnership.” Sometimes this partner can come from inside the organization, such as the IT department. Second, plan to virtualize existing systems to achieve “location independence” and have choices about where your apps and data will live. Technologies for this include Hyper V which comes with Windows 2008 Server, VMWare or similar. Third, for achieved location independence, decide where these core business functions should be hosted. Fourth, in the course of time, migrate from hosted apps to “native cloud” apps. If migrating existing apps, this is achieved by improving, re-developing and migrating code in future versions, so it is structured to take advantage of the five characteristics mentioned earlier. This is where the real cloud benefits occur; the first three are preparatory in nature and should only be seen as being similar to a traditional hosting scenario. Native Cloud is where the action is, but it cannot be achieved without thinking through how existing business processed will be improved and those served by apps will be migrated. This is why startup organizations today have such an advantage, they do not have legacy apps to be concerned with, nor do they need to purchase infrastructure and many functions and services have a transaction cost close to zero.

Meltzer: One of the primary advantages of public cloud offerings is that you do not have to make the infrastructure and personnel investments normally associated with private cloud deployments. Other factors in determining whether to go public or private, or even attempting a hybrid combination of the two include issues with your data leaving your facility and whether there are issues with your application being virtualized with many others.

Moran: Your systems and services offering is most important. If you want to manage and/or host PACS as a cloud solution and sell it as a service to your customers, then partner with a manufacturer that enables you to do so. You can also broker cloud services from a SaaS manufacturer, although in many cases they end up owning the customer. Many suppliers can help your organization prepare to deliver cloud services to your customers, so it’s important to evaluate which suppliers are the best fit for your preferred business model.

Surfaro: A user’s facility locations and the complexity of their security needs will determine their evolution to managed or hosted services. If a user plans to use mobile devices as an integral tool for surveillance and physical security management, they are best served through cloud platforms because they’ll have both varying platforms and connectivity. Video can be streamed across multiple mobile broadband networks to many different platforms and cloud users will receive consistent content from one authenticated source. The behavior of usage is also a criteria. Do you have predictable or random peaks in usage? Is your usage expanding, but you do not know the rate or scale? All of these benefit from the elasticity or ability of the cloud to closely follow usage with performance and service— delivering, not wasting, services to the user. Finally ask: Can the user benefit from verifiable data that is accessible by multiple users from a secure location?


Q: Are there customers who are not suited for cloud services?

Bates: While the cloud may not be appropriate for all situations, it is such a compelling proposition for most businesses because it makes so much sense from a business case perspective. It is a reasonable proposition for most enterprises to consider that every app is a candidate for the cloud, whether that cloud is on-premise, or off premise in a public cloud, or a combination of the two. Devices that lives depend upon, like fire alarms, will likely be the last into the cloud because of proven performance and code and regulatory concerns.

Meltzer: I don’t believe there customers or markets that are naturally excluded from cloud computing opportunities. The appropriateness lies more in the area of the application and the characteristics of the application or data therein. There are certainly applications for most companies that are suited for the cloud. However, heavily regulated and compliance-driven markets may have more challenges justifying cloud-based services. The Sarbanes-Oxley act, as an example, requires that organizations maintain email for seven years and have it available for audit in an expedient timeframe.

Moran: Typically there are no limitations; however in certain high-security sectors, such as nuclear facilities, that follow specific security system regulations from the NRC, cloud-based services may not be an approved system architecture as of yet.

Surfaro: With the array of service-provider offerings greatly expanding, this list is getting smaller and would include users with little or no Internet connectivity. While camera count typically determines viability for hosted video, users having highly complex requirements, large camera counts, access points or intrusion sensors can still benefit from “private” cloud deployments.

Q: Should you start your own cloud service?