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Online Data Backup Expert Tips: To Virtualize or Not to Virtualize?

Assessing the popularity of cloud computing for business

Often times one mental hurdle that can hold businesses back from the modernization of their IT infrastructure through the use of the relatively new phenomenon of cloud computing is the simple feeling of being afraid to "jump on the bandwagon" too early. After all, there have been many trends in business and technology that seemed unstoppable at one time, only to be eclipsed by something else and then subsequently forgotten. How is one to judge where exactly the current cloud computing data revolution is headed?

What Does the Research Say?
There have been several recent surveys regarding the increasing popularity of online data backup and cloud computing. One of these polls conducted by Forrester Research found that 53% of businesses worldwide were interested in virtualizing their IT infrastructure and making the full transition into the cloud. When asked why they felt this way, the responses were quite varied, with some claiming cloud computing's potential to save them money on IT equipment costs as being their number one reason, while others cited the flexibility of data access that cloud computing could bring about for their businesses.

Another recent poll conducted by IDC found 210 upper-level business executives who were pro-cloud computing and database virtualization. They explained that their responses were due to the fact that they could easily see the potential of receiving more valuable information from their data through the increased levels of data accessibility that goes hand in hand with cloud computing and online data back-up. In addition, they almost all seemed to look forward to finally being free of devoting so much of their valuable resources toward the maintenance of their own servers and instead focus the resulting extra time and money toward working on other aspects of their developing businesses.

It appears that public sentiment among upper-level business personnel is definitely tipping toward a seemingly unavoidable shift to cloud computing. However, public sentiment on this issue is far from unanimous, with many businesses insisting on keeping their existing hardware infrastructures for all their business's computing needs, including backing up. Indeed, the debate over whether or not cloud computing is the way of the future essentially boils down to two questions:

  1. Who will ultimately be responsible for managing the fundamental infrastructure for small to medium-sized businesses?
  2. Is it better for a company to spend their money on the implementation of that infrastructure by purchasing additional physical IT equipment or hire off-site data management experts?

Regardless, the overall outlook seems to point toward the increased virtualization of IT management for business. Often after that, many small to mid-sized businesses will end up seeking to utilize virtual computing environments to increase their resources, effectively extending their existing physical IT infrastructure by adding on additional cloud computing ability as the need arises.

Finally, many businesses are deciding to cut down on maintenance costs and lost man-hours by selling their extra in-house IT equipment and moving their data processing and storage activities to the cloud. With cloud technologies such as data replication, de-duplication, data mirroring and increasingly advanced levels of data encryption, more and more business owners are talking about the enhanced data flexibility and security that online data backup and cloud computing can bring about for their enterprises.

Team Virtualization and Online Backup
Once an organization has made the decision to "take to the cloud," new and exciting possibilities will begin to emerge. New online backup technologies have made it possible for small and medium enterprises to set up virtual work teams without large capital investments in IT hardware and infrastructure. It's now feasible, and affordable, for any size enterprise to seamlessly connect its workforce over the Internet and take advantage of online tools for collaboration, interaction and information sharing. The era of the truly agile, global "kinetic business" has arrived. Whether you have just a few team members or a department of a hundred, you can start taking advantage of these technologies today.

Team Virtualization - What This Means to Your Business
Team virtualization starts with an enterprise de-linking local computing resources from their physical infrastructure, transferring enterprise information to an offsite server for storage, disaster recovery and ease of access. These cloud services become the core enablers for Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and provide unprecedented economies of scale and reduction of costs. Software as a Service (SaaS) enables highly flexible communication and control of the way in which data is accessed or used by members of the virtual team.

Identify Your Teams
You will also want to consider virtual workforce management with basic security protections including identification, authentication and authorization. Virtual teams and members of such teams may be identified and defined in accordance with the policies of your enterprise.

Many services, such as online backup services, provide agent-interface software to enforce rules and policies along with an administrator console to manage domains, assign users, permissions and access protocols for these virtual teams. User-IDs and passwords should be defined to authenticate individual users with authorization protocols to provide access to specific documents or types of information or even the kind of activities the users can perform on an accessed document. Once you have the basics in place, your virtual teams can collaborate and share files and folders they are permitted to access or use.

Collaborate, Tracking and Version Control
Consider your document collaboration process and how you want to control the modification of the files. Version controls are a handy way to prevent overwriting the original document, tracking changes, as well as guarding against data corruption. Many online backup service providers that provide versioning allow users to save multiple versions of a document based on automated rules. More advanced cloud collaboration services allow document commenting and locking features along with archiving and other services.

Supporting Mobile Team Members
Mobile members of your virtual team will be able to access company files and folders in the cloud storage or online backup server by connecting to an account using a web browser or a specialized lightweight client application. Your authentication and authorization protocols will give them access to the data via the web only if the authentication is successful and the login information matches the data contained in the authentication table of the online database. Once authenticated, remote workers have the ability to upload, share or update information in the database in accordance with the rights and permissions available to them.

More Stories By Jamie Brenzel

Jamie Brenzel brings over 15 years of experience in investment banking and entrepreneurial startups to his role as CEO of KineticD. His prior business accomplishments are long and varied. He was at Salomon Brothers in London, where he helped build the equity derivatives department into an important profit center. He then embarked on his future as an entrepreneur, acquiring Wood Printing & Graphics, and later co-founding integrated marketing communications company Sonar Group. Jamie then established a solid foundation for Truition, an eCommerce service company for clients such as Dell Financial Services, CompUSA and Sirius Satellite Radio. Jamie holds an Honors Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics and Philosophy from the University of Western Ontario.

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