Cancel OK

Cloud Gazing

Shedding light on how businesses can leverage the cloud

Assessing current needs
But first things first: it is necessary to assess your current technology. To successfully move to the cloud, a certain amount of bandwidth is required for optimal performance, cautions Giobbi.

“The bandwidth required is a function of the number of enterprise resource planning (ERP) users and the design of the ERP itself,” explains Tim Smith, president of Spokane Software Systems, Inc. in Spokane, WA.

“Even with a small organization, say three to five users, an internet connection with 25 megabits per second down and 3 megabits up would be the minimum we’d like to see,” Smith says. (For a glossary of terms, including megabit loading speed, see the sidebar).

Demystifying Technojargon: A Glossary of Terms

A measure of the amount of data that can travel over a connection in a specified amount of time. If a cable-to-modem internet connection provides 25 megabits per second (Mbps) of (high) bandwidth, it can download much faster than with a low-bandwidth connection. For example, with 7.85 Mbps of bandwidth, it will take two hours to download a 7-gigabyte (GB) file.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP)
A method of integrating multiple business functions such as planning, purchasing, inventory, sales, marketing, human resources, accounting, and more into one platform. In technology, ERP usually refers to the specific software used for the above functions.

Hybrid cloud
A combination of onsite IT infrastructure and offsite cloud services designed to improve and extend existing resources; often an initial step toward complete cloud computing.

Megabits (Mbps)
A unit that measures the speed of data transfers on high bandwidth connections: up refers to the upload speed; down, the download speed.

Megabytes (MB)
A unit of measure like megabits, only greater: 1 megabyte is equal to 8 megabits. Megabytes are typically used for calculating storage and size, while megabits are more often associated with the speed of a connection.

Software as a Service (SaaS)
A model whereby software is in the cloud and the user pays a subscription fee to use it. The software is usually accessed through a web browser by typing in a user name and password.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Experts liken VPNs to tunnels running through the internet; a VPN uses encryption and other security methods to scramble data, thus shielding internet traffic from others and preventing cyberattacks.

Software requirements
Another important consideration is legacy software applications that may not be conducive for a cloud-based hosted environment.