Before You Go Cloud: 5 Important Legal Points

Before You Go Cloud: 5 Important Legal Points

Before You Go Cloud: 5 Important Legal PointsYou know you want to make the switch from traditional hosting to cloud hosting for your business. It's a big switch, but often, the right choice. Just as you did when you started your business, you need to be careful: the security of your data, and sometimes that of your customers, is depending on you.

You need to be sure you're making the right move at the right time, and that the provider you choose gives you an experience that suits the needs of your company. Most importantly, ensure that provider's contract meets regulatory and privacy guidelines and restrictions in your industry.

Before You Go Cloud: 5 Important Legal Points

1. Is Cloud Computing Covered By Your Insurance?

When you are thinking about choosing cloud computing, you need to read the fine print of your insurance policy first. Look for the policies that spell out your company's networks and computers. Will a loss due to cloud computing be covered? At the same time, look over the clauses in the provider's contract. Does it include indemnification clauses regarding service outages or data breaches? If the answer to both is no, you have no recourse in the event of a data loss. At least if it is in the provider's contract, you have some form of protection.

If it isn't in the provider's contract, ask that clauses regarding outages and security breaches be added. If it isn't in your insurance policy, maybe now is the time to pick up an insurance plan that addresses the needs of the cloud.

2. What Does the Long Term Look LIke?

Before you sign any contract, you need to look at the vendor itself. How viable are they? What will happen to your business if that vendor merges or outsources? Another issue: can your IT team handle cloud computing? What about the rest of your staff? Guidelines spelling out best practices must be drafted.

3. Is Your Data Really Secure?

No matter how strong your contracts and insurance policies are, data and security breaches can still occur. You need to take a look at how a data breach will impact your operations and any external vendors or partnerships based on the security plan laid out by the service provider. Assure you own the rights to your data (yes, this can be an issue with some providers) and find out what happens to your data if you decide to go elsewhere.

4. Is Compatibility In Place?

This is often not high on the list of considerations, but it should be! What if your facility relies on Windows products, and suddenly you want to switch over to Apple, or you add iPads in? Will the data the cloud provider you choose be compatible across many platforms? If you plan on sticking to one platform and device, great. But if you want to plan for the future, which is always unknown in the tech world, compatibility is key.

5. Is The Cloud Provider Compliant?

Federal regulations are a huge consideration, mainly because they can put the security of your data at risk. Despite data being removed from the cloud, copies might still exist that can be provided to authorities and you'll never know. You also need to be sure the provider is taking your companies regulatory and legal requirements into consideration due to the nature of sensitive data. Look for their compliance, industry-specific, with standards such as the Statement on Auditing Standards No. 70 (SAS70) or HIPAA.

NOTE : The contents of this article are not to be taken as legal advice.

Photo courtesy of StockMonkeys dot com via Flickr Creative Commons

The Cloud And OpenStack: Interoperability Issues?

The Cloud And OpenStack: Interoperability Issues

In 2008, Reuven Cohen started one of the first Google groups created for those who wished to discuss the cloud, named “The Cloud Computing Interoperability Forum.” People posted discussions on topics like problems with standardization and interoperability, but eventually, conversation fizzled and faded away altogether.  The Cloud And OpenStack: Interoperability Issues

Recently, in a Forbes article, Cohen decided to pick up discussion regarding the cloud. And why not? It is in every aspect of our lives now! He points out that although the early cloud developers have been acquired by other companies and Amazon rules the land of the cloud, there are a variety of other companies who have entered the cloud market to compete.

OpenStack Summit: Interoperability Issues

He discussed the OpenStack Summit which he recently attended, a place for those involved in the cloud computing industry or just interested in OpenStack, the open source cloud infrastructure project created by NASA and Rackspace, to discuss the cloud.

The hottest topic of the summit: bringing to the forefront those companies not yet fully compatible with OpenStack. OpenStack developers spent a portion of time pointing out those companies who are big players within the OpenStack project, like HP and Rackspace, as being some of those companies who are “interoperable.” The vice president and general manager of HP Cloud Services, Roger Levy, took offense to this, stating the claim was “categorically false,” and that HP in fact provides the project with those tools necessary in determining whether a company is actually complying with OpenStack API.

The Truth About Operability

Cohen was able to sit down and chat with higher-ups within a host of OpenStack companies like Red Hat, Cisco, HP, Rackspace, and Citrix about cloud interoperability.

At one time, OpenStack was just about completely controlled by Rackspace, one of its founders. Today, however, Red Hat beats them in regards to the amount of code contributed to the project. Other major contributors: Canonical, Rackspace, IBM, Nebula, Suse, Piston Cloud, HP, and Cloudscaling. Other technology companies have a stake in OpenStack, too: Comcast, Best Buy, HubSpot, and Bloomberg. All of these companies rely on OpenStack within their cloud infrastructures.

Brian Stevens, Red Hat CTO, said that they now have over 39 developers focused on OpenStack, making OpenStack part of its cloud solution. Similar to Red Hat, other companies are attempting distributions that work with a Linux OS: Nebula, Piston Cloud, Cloudscaling, Suse, and Metacloud. What's interesting about this is that the majority of them are attempting to, in Cohen's words, “position themselves as the ‘Red Hat' of OpenStack.” Stevens finds this interesting, pointing out, “We actually are Red Hat.” He adds that they are the leader when it comes to “supporting its customers among a range of enterprise products, services, and environments, internal or externally.”

OpenStack vice chairman and cloud CTO for Cisco, Lew Tucker, talks with Cohen about the differences in the cloud today from the cloud in its infancy. “One thing that was missing was a large number of private and public clouds running the same platform. Today, in part because of projects like OpenStack, you can take an application and run it uniformly on one cloud or another with little or no transformation required. This is a big part of the driving factor of OpenStack. Like Linux you have a high degree of portability between multiple independent environments.”

What About VMware?

Logically, Cohen inquired about Cisco's partnership with VMware, and how their new focus on OpenStack affects this. “VMware is strong in virtualization, specifically in the enterprise. They've done a great job of enterprise class data management. They have a tremendous market position.” He adds that “OpenStack is a better option for anyone who wants to build their own Amazon, on the inside. You can run legacy on VMware but OpenStack is about new, scale-out, web-scale applications.”

What is driving this trend? Tucker says it's the white paper Systems of Engagement and The Future of Enterprise IT by Jeffery Moore, adding “Systems of record are complete. It's been done. Systems of engagement are about the engagement of customers. It's about broadening the level of interaction between customers, suppliers and providers. IT is being asked to get involved in engaging with the customers, collecting information, analyzing information and, most importantly, acting on it. These are all new applications.” And what better than OpenStack, says Tucker, to develop these new applications on?

CTO of Rackspace, John Engates, said the interoperability discussion centers around “using real code, not standards created in a vacuum.” This has, he said, “been a problem with the traditional standards tactics. Adoption is key and functional code is a must. The risk is it won't happen or becomes fragmented, but I don't think this is going to happen. We want a milestone reference that all OpenStack clouds use as a basis of comparison.”

It Starts With RefStack

The API for registration of interoperability compliance endpoints and testing within OpenStack, called RefStack, is how it should all be done according to Engates. “Essentially it's an automated test for compatibility and interoperability. It's like the Dolby standard for the cloud.”

He knows that Rackspace is valuable beyond the stack, and said that the company has no desire to lock in their customers. “The challenge is moving fast and at scale. Early on we had to push things out that weren't fully ready, which led to us playing a bit of catch-up, but our goal remains the same. Early on in OpenStack, we had a lot of proving that the code could run at scale. We had to prove it was real. Today our cloud runs on code less than two weeks off trunk, which is itself a sign of the commitment to our use of the community's code. You can't fork if you want to use a community contributed code base.”

Cisco's Tucker assures that “Interop is happening. We've always had true interoperability among TCP/IP. At the end of the day, the Internet is the interop layer and it is the foundation of any true cloud interoperability…we're in a much better position than ever before. New open source, more mature software and cloud brokerages that are on the horizon are opening up a world of new opportunity not possible before.”

Want That Madison Ave. Office Space? Move To The Cloud!

Move To The Cloud

Commercial leasing is expensive. Especially if you happen to live in a large city. But, you can have your cake and eat it too thanks to the cloud. You can also have your shared hosting, Linux hosting, and any other kind of hosting by moving to the cloud. But, what does any of this have to do with office space?

madmen Move To The CloudAn Interesting Overlap

You might know that cloud hosting can cut back on IT costs. Did you know that it cuts back on needed office space as well? A new survey just released by Rackspace hosting shows that companies making the move to the cloud can get rid of extra employees — no, not fire them, just get rid of them. This, in turn, means cutting back on office space.

Cloud computing also offers employees more commuting flexibility. When everything is stored in the cloud, there's no need to go to an office every day. As long as files and documents can be accessed via the cloud, that's all that's really necessary. So, cutting back on office space while also cutting back salaried jobs saves companies just like yours a bundle.

Move To The Cloud: Types of Cloud Hosting

One of the biggest cloud misconceptions is that the cloud doesn't offer regular types of hosting like Linux hosting or shared hosting. But, this isn't the case. Sure, it's best to explore what different cloud companies offer before you switch, but this switch is entirely possible — and beneficial.

You can also connect employees to your office happenings at all times things to devices like cellphones and tablets. Many companies are also setting up employee cloud programs, so that employees can be connected at all times. Just think of the possibilities!

“There is no doubt that cloud computing is enabling a more flexible workplace using a range of devices,” Dr. Brian Nicholson of Manchester Business School told press in a recent statement. Devices like smartphones and tablets — devices that staff members are looking for “… in the workplace.”

Move To The Cloud: As Attached As We Are

We are all attached to one device or another, so why not a device that connects us to work as well? Why not a mobile cloud-based office? Why not rent office space for a lot less employees, and go cloud all the way? Want that high priced office space on Madison Avenue?

You can have it — if you move your office to the cloud. Heck, you can be Don Draper in a smaller office space if you send some of your employees home to work. Don't worry, they'll still be connected through the cloud! Have you gone cloud yet?

Cloud Computing Is Growing: Forbes Reports

Cloud Computing Is Growing

Cloud Computing Is GrowingForbes recently published an article that states that more than half of U.S. businesses use cloud computing. When you consider that there are around 6 million businesses within the United States, that “half” number takes on a whole new meaning. We're talking about 3 million (or more) companies using cheap hosting cloud options. Wow.

There are many, many, reasons why companies are switching to the cloud. Mostly, those reasons have to do with cost. Cloud computing options are simply less expensive than hiring an IT department. It's really that simple. Something else is happening too, though. Companies are starting to use more than one cheap hosting solution and some are using more than one cloud service.

The Split Cloud Service Idea

Why are companies using multiple cloud providers? There are a number of excellent reasons. Here are a few:

  • International boundaries. Sometimes, data doesn't flow smoothly across international boundaries. When this happens, it's a good idea to seek a second service in the other country where your company is currently operating.
  • Shifting traffic. You may have to shift traffic at some point. In this case, you will need to have somewhere to shift that traffic to. A second cloud provider makes sense.
  • Extensions. If you have your own data center, a cloud provider extension might be a good way to build onto that center. Cloud providers are inexpensive and reliable for the most part, so why not go this route?

These are all excellent reasons to seek more than one cloud provider. There are additional reasons as well, and many companies are starting to explore these options. Amazingly, some companies are still cautious about moving to the cloud while others are finding that more than once cloud is the way to go.

Cloud Computing Is Growing: Is the Cloud for You?

You can look at regular cheap hosting providers we review more than a handful of them on this site. But, cloud providers offer many things that others do not. Just be careful that you are truly dealing with a cloud provider, and not a company that uses the word “cloud” loosely.

What Google Glass and Cloud Computing Have In Common

Google Glass and Cloud Computing

Google Glass is a hot topic right now. Pictures of Google's glass regularly pop up around the web, and people are curious as to what these devices are all about. But, what do Google Glass and cheap web hosting or cloud computing have in common? As it turns out, a lot.

Google glass -LogoGoogle Might Need More Hosting

Robert Scoble, representative for Rackspace cloud hosting, has been talking about Google Glass a lot. So much that a recent article Scoble posted on Google Plus has been circulating and spreading like wildfire. In this letter, Scoble states that “Google Glass is going to need a new kind of cloud computing and Google won't be able to satisfy all the demand.” What does he mean by this?

Simply, “…humans will generate much more data than they do today. Either because of sensor tracking to do things like play location-based games, or do health tracking, or more. Think about Waze, a traffic app, on Google Glass. The new developers will need new cloud computing.” Will they? It certainly seems like Scoble is right. So, what's the solution to the problem? Scoble points to Rackspace.

The Future of Google Glass and Cloud Computing

Will app developers need unique cloud computing options in the future? If Google Glass takes off (you have to remember, of course, that to buy a pair of Google's new glasses you have to shell out over $1000, so this might not happen soon), cloud computing might take a new turn.

Optimistic (overly?) Scoble goes on to state that “…the future is contextual systems and Rackspace, if it executes well, should be a leader in providing infrastructure to these systems.” Rackspace, no doubt, wants a front and center piece of the Google Glass pie. So far, the company is achieving this goal, as reps from the two companies have been seen meeting and negotiating. Interesting, indeed.

What Rackspace Is All About

We've covered Rackspace on this site before, but just in case you missed it, you can check out more information about this cheap hosting cloud option. I also want you to sound off below, if you have a moment. Let me know what you think of Rackspace, and what you think of Google Glass. Do you think that Rackspace and Google have a future together? One that can be seen through glass, perhaps?