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Our friends at Google say “The term “cloud computing” is everywhere. In the simplest terms,cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive. The cloud is just a metaphor for the Internet.” Very true. Not entirely glamorous nor earth shattering in its description .. But true nonetheless. As a disclaimer, Northview offers “cloud based services”, we just want to be sure our clients really understand what that means.

I have a media server at home. Its really cool. All my movies, the kids movies, our music, photo’s video’s, all available to any machine that connects to it. If i was wearing my marketing hat, I would be telling you, or selling you, that my media server is a “Secure Cloud Service” and it is! But honestly, which one sounds better and ultimately, which one would you buy from me? “Server in My basement with media files” or “Secure Cloud Service” or even “SaaS” (what an awesome buzzword!) Which means “Software as a Service” and is traditionally attached to services like salesforce.com,  and others.

I think it is apparent that the server in my basement, that I or others can access over the internet, that will provide the service of searchable music movies and photo’s, is all three of these descriptions.

Yes, it’s true, my basement cannot claim PCI-DSS, BUT.. it is fully redundant, backed up and has emergency power AND dual Internet pipes .. Starting to sound familiar?

NOT my basement :)

NOT my basement 🙂

 

Its really important for new, small, and medium sized businesses to know not only want the actually need, but what they are actually getting. As much as I would love to carve out a VM in my basement and sell it to you… Eventually the cat will lay on the keyboard and screw something up and I don’t want that type of responsibility laying over me.

What you should look for in your “cloud” provider and what those pesky little really mean.

General Service Types – There are probably a billion variations on these with both cool and silly names but at the end of the day (and the end of the month when the bill comes) These are pretty standard. We can assume each provider will astound you with acronyms and certifications and “hardened security” it goes on and on … Yes, it is INCREDIBLY important and you should always check the certifications and reliability of your vendor, but since we are speaking in broad general terms about the “cloud” lets just assume that whomever you chose meets the minimum requirements. (Man, my basement was soooo close!)

  • SAS 70 Type 1 certified (this is a dying cert, soon to be replaced) / CICA 5970 / SSAE 16 / or the international ISAE 3402 used for IFAC (wait WHAT? Yup, another article coming on this mess!)
  • Dual-city grid power feeds, plus battery backup with automated transfer switch and on-site diesel generator
  • FM 200 server-safe fire suppression system with early pre-fire detection mechanism
  • Automatic temperature and climate control system with humidity and temperature sensors located throughout the facility
  • Biometric and key card security system including man-traps and rack level locking mechanism
  • Staffed 24×7 by data center technicians and engineers and monitored remotely

VM on Multi-Tenant Host – You are sharing a box with 10’s to 100’s of other clients – generally when you sign up for a $4:00 a month “web host” This is what you get. It’s not necessarily a bad thing if it meets your needs and is generally for low traffic, low load applications

Optimized VM on Multi-Tenant Host – Usually the same as above, just on an application or workload specific box tuned for that service (Think a smaller WaaS service)

VPS Hosting – A vendor is “carving off” a Virtual Private Server just for you. This option is more expensive, but a better option when you want to “do your own thing in your own environment” Instead of the Multi-Tenant Host solution where you are sharing a room in a condo, with this option, you are getting your own room. You just need to decide how big a room you want or need. Examples could be 1GB RAM with a 25GB SSD for around $35-40 bucks, to 8GB of RAM with 125GB SSD for $150 and up from there

Dedicated. – This is actually having the whole condo. Essentially a personal physical box housed in a data centre in the US, Canada, UK, India .. Usually you get to choose your provisioning centre (be careful though regarding The Patriot Act and Safe Harbour agreements when you decide where to provision) Dedicated services can be anywhere from $100 or so a month into the $1,000’s

Usually the services come with either, or both:

C-Panel – This is the interface that allows you to access and manage the files and programs contained within your shared environment. Dedicated machines will generally not have a C-panel (or Plesk ) The world is a better place when your Web Server and Website have c-panel

WHM – Allows / Enables administrative control and access to the back-end of c-panel, so you can create additional c-panel accounts

 

We all want to believe our data, our servers, our systems are housed behind 4ft titanium walls with armed guards and an army of uber geeks salivating to get in there and make it bigger, stronger faster …

datacenter

The reality is this. Your cloud server, is a server (VM, VPS, Dedicated, whatever the case may be), that you connect to through the internet. Once you get past the certification acronyms, the marketing, the hype, that’s all it is. It is incredibly secure, robust, redundant, fully managed and probably contained in a pretty awesome infrastructure yes .. but it is not a magical, mythical and confusing “thing” at all. It is the media server in my basement, the webpage you’re reading, the Google search you did, the Siri Question you asked (and got the wrong answer too!) and it is even Netflix.

Be informed, but don’t be afraid 🙂

 

 

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