Five Considerations When Evaluating Cloud Computing Architectures
An excellent starting point for an organization looking at cloud computing platforms is to examine its IT architecture. Only by aligning the architecture – compute, network, data center, power and storage resources – with applications can a company be on the path to achieve the reliability and performance it requires within a cloud environment.
"In cloud computing, true protection is an outcome of the right architecture for the right application," said Janel Ryan, senior product marketing manager at SunGard Availability Services. "Organizations need to fully understand their individual application requirements and, if using a cloud platform, the corresponding cloud architecture. With that knowledge, they can make informed decisions about what 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 tier their applications, identifying which applications need to be highly available, 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 highly available, businesses should consider enterprise-class technologies that have been rigorously tested versus looking at building something internally. It's also important to look at multi-site solutions and disaster recovery/business continuity planning. For most businesses, this 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 for businesses regarding the cloud. Concerns include the loss of control of their sensitive data, the risks associated with a multi-tenant environment, and how to address standards and compliance. Organizations need to know how a shared, multi-tenant environment is segmented to prevent customer overlap. How is the solution architected and is the service provider's cloud infrastructure – network, virtualization and storage platforms – secure?
Manageability. Businesses need to understand what they are accountable for versus what they expect from a service provider. Most public cloud vendors do not provide administrative support. Organizations need to either have the technical expertise in-house to design the right solution or seek the services of an outside provider. There should 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's important to understand workload demands on the infrastructure. Companies also need to understand what the bottlenecks are and how the cloud architecture they have or are evaluating can meet those needs. Organizations should perform their own testing to understand how a cloud environment affects compute, storage and network resources.
Compliance. Organizations need to understand where their data will reside as well as who will interact with it and how. They need to understand which areas of compliance the service provider controls and how to audit against the standards and regulations to which they need to adhere.