Jun 08,2016

Essentials of Cloud Computing and its effects on businesses like Fashion retail

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Essentials of Cloud Computing

When it comes to Cloud Computing, there is a lot of confusion and concern about what Cloud Computing is, why you need to think about Cloud, and how to choose right cloud vendors.   Social media revolutionized the way we absorb news, politics, and trends, and business is no exception to it. It changed every facet of our lives, from the way we listen to music, to our eating habits, to the way we shop for clothes. Imagine walking down the street and seeing someone wearing a gorgeous dress, shirt or even a scarf. Instead of going up to her and asking where she bought it, you can take a picture and in a matter of seconds have the ability to order that product from a retailer using your phone. It is happening today.  We can’t talk fashion and technology without discussing the power of mobile technology, where the Cloud is the hero.

A study about Internet Trends conducted by kpcp.com revealed that the Cloud affects typical businesses, especially retail stores in the fashion industry, by increasing the e-Commerce presence. Online sales increased 26% in 2015 with a steady +24% YoY. This effect of internet developed new behaviors of consumers’ daily life and the way businesses spend their advertisement fund to reach more customers.

According to a study done by Mary Meeker who dives into online trends  impacting retailers and reveals the increase of the cloud computing and how the U.S. mobile ad market size $22 billion, with consumers spending 25% of their time on mobile devices compared to 36% watching television, 22% on the internet via computer, 13% listening to radio, and 4% percent reading print.  Yes, most of the time, people use cloud computing without thinking about it, for example when it comes to e-mail (gmail, yahoo mail, live mail, or 3rd party), storing files on the internet (drop box, box, Amazon drive, google drive, one drive, etc.) and accessing information through the cloud/internet anywhere in the world.

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is the latest industry hype or buzz word in computers and the internet world. Cloud computing can be seen as a technological evolution. The cloud/internet functions as enormous connected machines that are always turned on. It is where any business organization can store information on a web browser and access it through any internet-enabled electronic device.  It is not only economically cheaper today, but it is also the most viable solution for businesses to support mobility. The terms cloud and internet will be used interchangeably throughout this article.  Instead of building your own IT infrastructure (which would include hardware and involve developing and maintaining software applications), companies can access computing resources hosted by third parties on the internet (the ‘cloud’). In technical terms, cloud computing is a model for providing flexible, ubiquitous, on demand access over the internet to a shared pool of configurable computing resources, including servers, software applications, storage capacity and computing power.

Cloud Computing Components

Cloud Computing involves two components: a Cloud Infrastructure and software applications.  Imagine you want to improve your health, so you decide to overcome your challenges and be more active and track your progress for results. You consider starting fresh and get a solution.  You buy your favorite phone from any manufacturer, such as an Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Microsoft Nokia Lumia, or other third party vendors, and a fitbit to be more sophisticated.   You will need to activate the phone with the right data plan according to your budget and needs, and configure the fitbit with your phone after getting the fitbit app downloaded and configured.  Think of your phone along with your fitbit as Cloud infrastructure and the appropriate app as the software application that communicates your progress on the phone.  Without the cloud, your problem will not be solved.   So, the Cloud infrastructure consists of the hardware resources required to support the cloud services being provided and typically includes server, storage, and network components. The second component, software application, refers to software applications and computing power for running business applications, as provided via the internet by third parties like At&T, Verizon, etc.  This is cloud computing, sometimes also referred to as Cloud Services.

Cloud Computing Types

Cloud services come in three different forms for commercial purposes. Companies tend to use any of these models, or a combination of them to solve their problems without investing too much money.  The three types include:

  1. Public cloud: This is most commonly used. Public Cloud has proper pricing, availability, and governance. This is the cheapest and it has very common industry level Service Level Agreements (SLA) in place based on the type of service. Consider using this model if the SLA meets your business needs.
  2. Private cloud: The Private Cloud model is customized according to the needs of the customer. It can be hosted inside the customer location or a vendor location. The client owns and controls the services for themselves. It is considered to be most secured and expensive solution.
  3. Hybrid cloud: This combines the public cloud and the private cloud. It is a mix of  both of the above-mentioned Cloud forms. It is also secure and most flexible.  Most of the secured and compliant industries tend to use Hybrid cloud to enjoy the best of both Cloud services.

Are in a business or a business leader or a member of the managing committee who has to consider expanding your business without worrying about the complexity of the Cloud?  Do you need be looking for a secure, accessible, and affordable way of storing your organization’s data?  You need Cloud services to accomplish your business goals.

In order to evade the costs associated with building a server room, buying storage to save your data, and maintaining those machines, you must contact a trusted company and ask about a cloud plan.  Data on a cloud can be accessed from any place provided you have an electronic device which can access the internet. This has reduced the need for moving around with external storage devices or visiting a particular computer on which data was kept.

Cloud vendors simplified the cloud plan in multiple categories for each business organization (small, midsize, and large) to solve problems, such as critical information, including financials, strategic business initiatives, and collaboration with employees. These solutions have been possible as all the information is accessed instantly as soon as it is posted in the cloud, irrespective of the location from the organizational premises.  Cloud vendors use different delivery of cloud methods: Hybrid Cloud Computing, Cloud Apps, and Cloud Services.  All these terms have different meanings based on the type of vendor and services your organization will utilize.  Hybrid computing is the most popular and most well-received approach for the majority of reputable organizations.

Hybrid computing will enable your secured information access through your cloud vendor service as soon as your security officer allows the right type of access permission.  In the end, your customers and employees get your business services while you maintain security and make sure you are compliant.

How to choose the right cloud vendor.

When it comes to choosing the right vendors, there are many companies which offer the services, and you must ensure the most appropriate one is chosen. Below are factors to consider in selecting the company to offer your business cloud services:

  1. Reliability Research: Evaluate which is the most consistent among the companies offering the services. Of course, the company with many customers and which has stayed in the market for a long time is considered to be reliable.  Ask companies to share customer references with you and take your time to talk to these customers about their positive or negative experiences.  Find out how negative experiences were handled by the vendor and whether the customers are satisfied and feel secure, and how long the customer has been using the vendor’s services.
  2. Great Customer Service:Does the company offer 24/7 support, and is the support team located close to your business?  Call them at different times of the day and night to find our whether the response is consistent and pleasing.  Use social media to research customers’ comments and ratings of different vendors. How do they respond to customers, what are the primary objectives of the company, and what is the quality of services? It is advisable to choose a provider whose response to customers’ requests is quick, highly rated by customers, and whose objective is not maximizing profits alone.
  3. Financial StabilityConsider a service provider which has enough finances to maintain itself and offer the required services. With larger publicly traded organizations, this can be done by monitoring the provider’s earnings, stock prices, and financial reports to choose which is more stable and suitable.  With smaller companies, make sure you understand their core business model and choose only companies whose business core is cloud hosting.

According to the same Meeker’s study, she mentioned, “U.S. internet advertising grew about 20% last year, reaching $60 billion”. In summary, you are now able to understand cloud computing and its need, identify the types of cloud computing, and determine the categories to use when selecting your Cloud Vendor. I hope this is helpful for your cloud journey.   Please check out my other blogs for more information.

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