Recently President of ThrottleNet, George Rosenthal, was interviewed by Virtual Strategy Magazine. The interview was published as read below:


VSM: We hear a lot of buzz about cloud technologies. Some businesses are already on-board with a cloud strategy while others have yet to take full advantage of some of the benefits the cloud offers. Can you review exactly what the cloud is?

George Rosenthal: The wiki dictionary defines cloud technologies or cloud computing as “the use of computing resources (hardware and software) that are delivered as a service over a network (typically the Internet)”. End users access cloud-based applications through a web browser or a light-weight desktop or mobile app while the business software and user's data are stored on servers at a remote location.

Proponents claim that cloud computing allows enterprises to get their applications up and running faster, with improved manageability and less maintenance. They say it enables IT to more rapidly adjust resources to meet fluctuating and unpredictable business demand.

The promise is that companies can reduce costs and enjoy leading edge software and other virtualization by sharing these services in the cloud. The objective is to greatly reduce the expenditures involved with desk-by-desk purchases for office, CRM and other products. Long-term it provides a savings for on-site server upgrades and maintenance.

VSM: Can you explain further how the cloud works?

George Rosenthal: The Public Cloud offers applications, storage, and other resources made available to the general public by a service provider. These services are free or offered on a pay-per-use model with access only available through the Internet.

The Community Cloud shares infrastructure between several organizations from a specific community with common concerns. They are managed internally or by a third-party. The costs are spread over fewer users than a public cloud (but more than a private cloud), so only some of the cost savings potential of cloud computing are realized.

The Hybrid Cloud is a composition of two or more clouds (private, community or public) that remain unique entities but are bound together, offering the benefits of multiple models. By utilizing "hybrid cloud" architecture, companies and individuals are able to obtain local usability without dependency on Internet connectivity. Hybrid cloud architecture requires both on-premises resources and off-site (remote) server-based cloud infrastructure.

Finally there is the Private Cloud. It is cloud infrastructure operated solely for a single organization, whether managed internally or by a third-party. It is hosted internally or externally. Undertaking a private cloud project requires a significant level and degree of engagement to virtualize the business environment. When it is done right, it can have a positive impact on a business, but every one of the steps in the project raises security issues that must be addressed in order to avoid serious vulnerabilities.

VSM: Can you talk more about the pros of utilizing the cloud?

George Rosenthal: The cloud can provide a small to medium business with stability and scalability. It can provide enterprise type resources for firms that would not normally be able to afford them. It levels the playing field from a technology standpoint with larger competitors.

If you think of it like tap water you can turn it on and off as you need more services. This would not be possible with on-premise solutions where you may have to purchase a package of servers, licenses and software before you need them. The cloud allows you to pay as you go.

Accessibility is another benefit of cloud utilization. Anywhere you have an Internet connection you have access to the cloud whether it be in the office, at a coffee shop or at home.

VSM: Are there are any potential cons in dealing with cloud solutions?

George Rosenthal: One thing to think about is availability. The cloud is accessed through the Internet with one point of failure.  If you do not have an Internet connection at a given time, or if that connection goes down, you are out of service. Many companies are installing a second Internet connection to deal with this potential problem.

Another potential disadvantage is control. If you use an on-premise solution you have purchased your own private server, the software programs you need etc, all designed specifically for your business use. When a company uses the cloud, however, it is leasing these services and you are dependent on the cloud provider to maintain a high level of service for you. Business owners need to get assurances from their cloud provider that their data is protected and backups are provided in case of a problem.

Finally the user experience can be compromised. First, to handle increased data flow, the business needs to have enough bandwidth in-house to handle a much larger load. The cloud provider must also keep pace as the client adds new programs and increases the amount of data. The provider needs to ensure that the “pipe” is always large enough to handle the needs of a growing business.

VSM: Is security an issue with cloud computing?

George Rosenthal: For many companies, security may actually be improved with a cloud solution. Think of everything needed to secure a business and its data. From a standpoint of physical security some companies try to protect their space by employing 24 hour surveillance with video cameras, electronic card readers and ID badges, and limit access to their server room. There are also firewalls, antivirus programs and other items utilized in the process. Yet many small businesses only have a bare-bones approach to security.

By maintaining a high level of virtualization in the cloud a company can improve their level of security with advanced firewalls and other tools. In fact, it may be able to eliminate some of the precautions needed with a full on-site approach. The cloud provider can detail these offerings during an evaluation of their services.

VSM: What should a company look for when evaluating a cloud provider?

George Rosenthal: Like any other type of business arrangement I would ask them for references and testimonials. Ask if they have worked with any type of business similar to yours. This can by industry specific and/or based on business size, need, and prospects for future growth.

Costs can also play a role. Some cloud providers charge migration or set up fees in addition to their monthly charges. This should be gleaned and understood before signing an agreement.

Also ensure they understand your software usage and needs so there are no surprises down the road. Some cloud providers begin with a bare bones program with little understanding of the actual demands of the business. Suddenly work flow can be compromised and costs inflated as the provider reconfigures its program and services.

VSM: Is the cloud then a good solution for most businesses?

George Rosenthal: Companies should do a detailed cost analysis before embarking on a cloud solution. In some cases it may be more cost-effective to add another server on the premises with some additional hardware and software.

The IT service provider should play an active role in this process. The IT firm can take an agnostic approach with the business owner and help them assess their needs prior to contacting the cloud provider.

The goal is to help the business make the right decision with a technology approach that meets the needs of the company, both now and in the future.

See the original published article: http://www.virtual-strategy.com/2013/08/20/interview-george-rosenthal-president-throttlenet?page=0,0