These days everyone is talking about or discussing thecloud. The cloud has been around for a long time. It is really just hostedcomputing. That hosting can be anything from applications, email or the entirecomputing environment.

Since this has been around for a while, you do not need tofear it, just plan for it. Some applications make sense to place into thecloud. The first one that comes to my mind is email. Email can be veryexpensive for companies to host in-house these days. Various offering existfrom Google to Microsoft live 365 to host email. The first thing to considerplacing in the cloud is email. I have been running my email in the cloud forthe past 4 months and I have been very happy with it.

The next item to consider moving to the cloud might be yourbackups. This is typically combined with some sort of onsite backup system. Butwhy rely on tapes that you may or may not take offsite? Services exist thatallow you to have an onsite backup system that is online and gives you theability to restore a file quickly. You can combine that with the ability toreplicate the data to the cloud for disaster recovery purposes. This disaster recoverysite could be a datacenter that could offer the ability to host your servers.

Some items to consider when moving to the cloud are security,redundancy and who owns the data. You will want to make sure that the companyhosting your data is following industry standard best practices and is alsoencrypting your data so only you have access to it. You should also find outwhat redundancy they have in place and ask them what disaster recovery plansthey have in place. You also might want to consider redundant links to theInternet. Most firewall’s can handle them these days and the price for a secondInternet connection is fairly cheap. You also want to make sure that you ownyour data. You do not want to enter an agreement only to have someone else ownyour business data.

So remember the cloud has been around for a very long timeand you don’t have to move everything right away. Sit down and create a plan onwhat your cloud strategy. Then decide which services might make sense to moveto the cloud.