Realizing the Benefits of the Cloud

A while back, I wrote the article This Cloud Thing is Out of Control where I talked about moving a customer into the cloud to get better control over security, backups, testing, fault-tolerance and administration.  Well, we’re in the cloud now, and it hasn’t taken long to realize some of its advantages.

Cloud for Security:

I’m feeling confident that my cloud deployment is secure.  I’ve gotten the firewalls configured, and we have good coding practices in place.  I never feel comfortable saying that something is completely secure because I can’t prove that.  However, I am certain that the security in the cloud is better than what we had locally.  For more details, read my prior posts Understanding Amazon EC2 Security Groups and Firewalls and 12 Ways to Secure the Cloud – Resistance is Futile.

Cloud for Backups:

I’m convinced that using the cloud for backups is the future.  In our case, I created a separate volume for daily database backups.  This is cheap and reliable.  I found a high-quality program called Jungle Disk for backing-up local files into the cloud.  I also keep everything in the cloud replicated locally.

Cloud for Testing:

I love the cloud for testing.  I can easily spin up a duplicate server for testing patches or new programs.  Read my earlier post Creating Amazon EC2 Machine Instances (AMIs) for Test Servers if you are interested to learn more about it.

Cloud for Fault Tolerance:

The greatest benefit of the cloud came a couple weeks ago when our entire network went down for a day.  You may be thinking, “How can that be a good thing?”  Well, it wasn’t a good thing; those in the office were down with nothing to do but talk about Joe Paterno’s 400th career victory all day.  However, because our servers are now in the cloud, customers still had access to the Web site. Salespeople still had access to their CRM data. Managers, who all work remotely, still had access to their reports.  Redundancy in our office network would cost a lot more than the $700 per year that the cloud server is costing us.  Plus, we would have to be administering the hardware.

Where to Learn more About Cloud:

Overall, the transition to the cloud has been a good learning experience, smooth and amazingly cheap. When you are ready to learn more, take one of Learning Tree’s cloud-computing courses.


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