Cloud is a good servant, but it may not be the ideal master

Every company is happy to get new customers. From the long-term perspective, it's even better if customers become loyal and stay with the company. As a customer, you feel fine if customer service is great, yet if a too high level of commitment is demanded, it may start to bother or restrict you. To feel comfortable with your decisions while providing necessary business needs, here’s a solution. Even in a seemingly complicated topic such as the transition of companies to the cloud.

"We deal with migrating to cloud. To run services in the cloud is not an easy nut to crack. If you have been using your infrastructure as a company so far and suddenly everything must work in the cloud, you need a completely different range of knowledge and experience," explains Ing. Marián Benko, Chairman of the Board of eGroupSolutions. Of course, every company should strive for advanced solutions, but the point is to be able to meaningfully set up work processes along with IT processes, consider their operational requirements, and make sure that everything is in perfect harmony. In this situation, it is ideal to have a reliable partner who can guide you through the many possibilities that the cloud offers. "We can design the architecture for enterprise systems so that the customer not only pays optimal amounts but at the same time does not have to be dependent on the selected cloud forever," adds Benko. "Last but not least, we can help operate the entire system." So, let's break this issue down and talk about it in more detail.  eGroup Solutions 

Cloud je dobrý sluha, ale nemusí byť ideálny pán
Ing. Marián Benko, Chairman of the Board of eGroup Solutions

Time is money

Digitalization has opened great opportunities, but also challenging concerns. To fully oversee a number of systems and processes in a large enterprise requires experienced employees in the IT department. When it comes to large enterprises, where even a short outage has a large and usually negative impact, it is necessary to think about solutions that are covered by trained professionals and secured from all angles. An outage in the production or logistics process can cause incalculable damage, for example, in courier companies, e-shop warehouses, supply chains, companies with continuous production, or airports. In short, there are companies where time plays a big role, and everything must work 100% or there is a risk of huge losses. "This is where play our role. To make sure that the company's entire information system is working one hundred percent so that we can get closer to what we call  zero downtime. "
When a company decides to go to the cloud with its infrastructure, the less experienced one can easily get lost, go up in smoke. There are indeed enough offers, and not all of them are advantageous. While some are more expensive, others have less security support, or you will find yourself bound significantly. Alternatively, a seemingly great offer may not turn out to be the best one after a while. Consequently, even leaving an inadequate cloud environment can cost you big money. "You just need to have everything carefully thought out at the beginning. That's why we prepare a deployment plan in advance, while also ensuring independence from the cloud provider."

The cloud environment may not be suitable for all business applications. The role of experienced advisors starts already here, in the initial decision-making process. "In the beginning, a thorough analysis is carried out, i.e. a review of the applications and systems that the company uses to run and support its various departments - from production management to accounting, document sharing, and the attendance system."

The subsequent evaluation will show the options and the result is often a recommendation to move some systems and applications to the cloud which typically offers lower operating costs, ensures high availability, faster deployment of services, and offers greater overall flexibility. You can also migrate to the cloud so that you are not dependent on it. All of this can be designed and engineered by an experienced company.

Local support

Not every cloud is beneficial for a particular client. When choosing one, it is also very important to have local support from the provider in case of unexpected complications. If an operational issue arises and support is in a different time zone, it may not be ideal for your business at all. So, when analyzing the suitability of the cloud, it is also considered where the support centers are, what legislation they fall under and how flexible they can be to respond to your requirements. A good example is a cloud from IBM, which has local support and representation in Slovakia. In this way, the client can communicate with them and deal with response and fixing of problems at any hour.

After IBM's buyout of the company Red Hat, some steps have become even more convenient. This results in even more comprehensive support for both brands' solutions. For example, Red Hat offers a clever commercial solution, OpenShift, which makes it easier to automate operations in the cloud. The automation is thoroughly tested and implemented gradually. It is a great simplification in terms of controllability and transparency of the cloud environment.

When the cloud may not be the solution

Migrating to the cloud must make sense. From all aspects, including financial. "One of the key things is that we can reduce IT operating costs. So, we put everything on paper, take quotes and alternative solutions from cloud providers," Benko describes the workflow. In addition to all this, however, you also need to think about what can be optimized in-house, i.e., in your own IT infrastructure. As a result, no stone may be left unturned. "We can also implement a so-called hybrid solution, i.e., the alternative of moving something to the cloud and leaving something under your control, on-premises, which can significantly optimize the cost of a given service." Hundreds of euros can be saved on this as well - find a hybrid model of IT operation. Because the cloud is not a place, it's a capability. Even on on-premises infrastructure, it is possible to operate in a so-called mini cloud or cloud-ready way. All this can be found out based on an analysis by eGroup Solutions, or even tried out directly. "We prepare a test or development environment, and the customers can test their operation. It's all about the ability to build IT flexibly and thus, in the end, adapt quickly to new business conditions."

IT operation as a service

Supporting independence from the cloud provider and automating IT processes is the "perfect scenario" for companies to have their comfort zone and focus on the core of their business. All the worries around IT, security, and availability that fall on the shoulders of the administrator of their IT systems are hidden under the concept of operations as a service. It includes not only the overall care to "make it work", but also a prompt solution when complications arise. It is not just a matter of ensuring that there is no outage of service to the client - because sooner or later such a situation may arise. There are several uncontrollable reasons for that. The bottom line is that the outage should last as short as possible, or that alternative solutions and recovery plans should be thought out and tested in advance, for which we have developed a set of tools called the Zero Downtime Center . Zero Downtime CenterAs an example, an e-shop website may not load for three seconds, but suddenly everything is up and running again. The user is ultimately unaffected, but the administrator's monitoring running in the background has detected some application defect, such as an overload, or a distributed attack from the Internet. It creates a new action and frees up other computational resources for it or tries to minimize the targeted attack. In the meantime, it will also send an alert to administrators that something is happening or has already happened. 

Backup and security

Operational security also includes data backup and recovery. Data is the most valuable commodity of companies and the moment any problems occur, the fear for it grows. IT managers have a peaceful sleep when their regular backups are well set up, even in different physical locations. Consequently, in the event of a threat to them, such as a ransomware hacking attack, the company simply turns to its backup system. "We can arrange a restart, whether with a different provider or the same one, for this you need to have experience in automating and managing infrastructure as code. This allows us to flexibly increase resource capacity or migrate individual systems to another environment or cloud." We can analyze all of this at the outset - what is appropriate to do in such cases and what is perhaps already too expensive. Again, we look for a sense in the solution and optimize the expenditure, but with a high focus on security and protection of sensitive data."

Firms should therefore ultimately strive for some form of independence. It doesn't have to be just about data, but also about the deployed applications that are critical to operations. If you lose one backup or provider, you can restore everything from another source thanks to prepared scenarios. What's more, this makes you independent of a specific source when services fail. All of this is only made possible by a well-designed IT infrastructure. Because security is not only important from the point of view of attacks from the outside. It's about an overall well-thought-out backup strategy that is resistant to cyber threats, as well as to process errors. "We want to bring maximum comfort to the customers, so that they are not busy with IT operations, but have more space to focus on their primary business activities. They leave all the worries around IT reliability and security to us. They can simply focus on increasing his productivity," concludes Benko. 

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