By Melinda Curran
As cloud technology continues to mature in the telecom marketplace, it has become an obvious and generous revenue source for channel providers. From mobile accessibility to disaster recovery, it’s not hard to point out the cloud’s advantages across any industry spectrum or business need. One of the best, and perhaps one of the lesser-advocated benefits of hosted technology is its ability to curb one of the IT department’s greatest archenemies — technology obsolescence.
When data is processed on external servers, as it is when a client deploys hosted solutions, the burden of needing to update servicing equipment falls on the hosted provider, rather than end user.
Of course, defeating obsolescence among existing technology through the cloud does take a well-defined strategy, one VARs should understand and implement as an added benefit for clients.
The first step in this strategy involves balancing the hosted network with your hardware. Obviously, a cloud user will require equipment to access his or her data, but at what point can you safely wean off of heavy on-site computer machinery (which is subject to intensive amounts of system maintenance, upgrades and replacement) and rely on the cloud? This tipping point should be calculated by considering the following factors:
- Recommend Infrastructure-as-a-Service. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) each have their own unique benefits for cloud users, but when it comes to scaling down the need to invest heavily in costly equipment, infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) is where the cloud makes its best effort to defy obsolescence. Since all major processing equipment is outsourced, the needs for costly servers and supporting networks will be effectively minimized. Along with hosting data, the service provider owns the equipment, network and is responsible for maintaining all associated technology. When IaaS is utilized, the need for internal servers and processing equipment is nearly nonexistent.
- Examine Secondary Access. Even if IaaS is utilized, your primary role as a VAR will be to make certain your clients’ data is properly secured and backed up through redundant processes. While the cloud provider’s means of backing up data will be a focal point of conversation, on the client’s end, there must multiple ways to access critical data in the cloud, should their network go down. This means clients should have at least one additional circuit and access point to the cloud. If not already installed, this may require investing in secondary access to the cloud. If this involves additional construction and installation for the client, it may be in his or her best interest to host an on-site server for data backup. This must be considered when weighing the balance of technology to the cloud, and should also be incorporated into its overall return on investment evaluation.
- Shift the Burden. To see a healthy return on investment when utilizing the cloud for technology obsolescence, it is essential to emphasize minimal investment in hardware. When it comes to accessing data through the cloud, the hardware requirements are minimal. The most important component your clients need is a reliable Internet connection. The supporting and receiving hardware has to function, but its functionality does not have to be as sophisticated as if it were processing the data itself. Advise clients to use basic hardware and keep the equipment well maintained for as many years as possible. Let the hosted solutions providers carry the burden of equipment upgrades so that clients can commit to dodging obsolescence.
Understanding an economically efficient ratio of cloud outsourcing to in-house technology will bolster your ability to position the cloud as a viable telecom solution. However, more factors, such as bandwidth and service details, should be considered. I’ll dive into those details in my following blogs.
Melinda Curran is the founder and CEO of RCG, a single-source telecommunications provider based in Franklin, Tennessee. RCG collaborates with nationwide carriers to custom-create voice, data and mobility network solutions tailored to a company’s individual needs. Dedicated to superior customer relationships, expertise and value, RCG serves as a single point-of-contact for network design, sales, contract negotiation, billing resolution and repair. Visit RCG online or on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter @rcgnashville.