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By: Angie Karpouzis

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August 15, 2016

Benefits of Hosting Your Member Data in the Cloud

Product Benefits

What Is “The Cloud”?

aptify-cloud-hosting.jpgWe throw the word “cloud” around a lot. Ask anyone you know where they store their photos or documents, and they will vaguely point upwards and say “it’s in the cloud.” The rhetoric around what the cloud actually is makes it hard to always understand the technology and the advantages of moving an traditional IT in-house power plant to an external location.

 

In this Post: 

What is the Cloud?

Pros and Cons of Cloud Hosting

Pros and Cons of On-Premise Hosting

What is Aptify Cloud?

Key Differentiators: Aptify Cloud Hosting

Benefits for Your IT Department

Aptify Cloud Architecture

Aptify Cloud Security

Benefits for your Business' Bottom Line

Advanced Strategic Planning for Technological Change

Aptify Cloud Hosting Resources

 

Traditionally, associations will host all of their machines, servers, and database onsite (this practice is also commonly referred to as "on-premise hosting"). This requires dedicated onsite staff to update and maintain software and hardware to keep the organization running at maximum efficiency. Often this means experienced IT staff and database administrators spend their time working on the systems instead of using their expertise to work in the system.

By moving resources offsite to a secure external location (known as "cloud hosting"), staff can access their software over the Internet from anywhere in the world, meaning greater efficiency, increased productivity, and a smaller carbon footprint.

The "cloud" where your software is hosted is where the efficiency multiplies. Cloud hosting allows an unlimited number of machines to act as one system. It is an electronic structure where data is stored over many different computers and served up via a network connection, giving you the power, up-time, and security of many computers for the price of one.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have researched the five characteristics of cloud hosting. They are:

  1. On-demand self-service: Once the service and environment are in operation, the client should be able to make changes to users, network storage, etc., as needed without human interaction.
  2. Broad network access: Cloud services should be available to all devices (mobile, laptop, desktop) over the agreed network (usually the Internet).
  3. Resource pooling: The provider’s computing resources are pooled to serve multiple consumers using a multi-tenant model, with different physical and virtual resources dynamically assigned and reassigned according to consumer demand.
  4. Rapid elasticity: Availability for resources will grow and expand at the need of the end user. Resources can also be diminished as necessary.
  5. Measured service: Clients are charged based on some kind of consumption (storage used, number of users, etc.). Resource usage can be monitored, controlled, and reported, providing transparency for both the provider and consumer of the utilized service.

Read the NIST Definition of cloud computing here.

You’ll need to decide what solution is better for your business by evaluating the pros and cons of both offerings. SysGen has already completed a great comparison model for you below.

Pros and Cons of Cloud Hosting

Pros

 

Cons

No need for onsite hardware or capital expenses. Well suited to rapidly growing companies that may outgrow their infrastructure too quickly.

 

The user experience is limited by the speed of the Internet connection.

Easily scalable; can be added to as needed. Solutions are often on-demand, so you only pay for the options you want.

 

Third party cloud services could have direct access to your data.

Workers can connect from anywhere, using any computer, tablet, or smartphone. Companies can implement BYOD (bring your own device) policies.

 

If the Internet goes down on your side or on your cloud provider’s side, you won’t have access to any of your information.

Data can be backed up in the cloud as regularly as 15-minute intervals, minimizing data losses in disaster situations.

 

The costs can outweigh the benefits for companies not as dependent on uptime.

Pros and Cons of On-Premise Hosting

Pros

 

Cons

Gives you physical control over your server.

 

Requires a capital investment in hardware and infrastructure.

Keeps critical data in-house; no third party has access to your information.

 

Requires space in your office for rack space or a server room/closet, as well as dedicated IT support.

No need to rely on an Internet connection for access to data.

 

May be more susceptible to data loss during disaster situations due to in-house location. How often you take the data offsite will reflect how much data you’ll lose in an emergency.

Can be more cost-effective for companies that are not as concerned about uptime.

 

No uptime guarantees.

Read the original article The Pros and Cons of Cloud Vs In House Servers on the SysGen website here.

What Is Aptify Cloud?

Aptify-Cloud.pngAptify offers a comprehensive cloud services option that provides clients with a high-quality and cost-effective method of outsourcing the infrastructure management and application administration aspects of running your Aptify software. Think of cloud hosting as described above, but provided by Aptify experts who can manage the health of your database as well as your other software requirements.

Aptify Cloud is not your typical SaaS solution (Software as a Service), but rather a PaaS solution (Platform as a Service), where customers maintain full ownership of the software and their data, with the flexibility to configure the software to suit their specific business needs. The idea is to offload the tasks required to keep a system running properly so your internal staff can focus their attention on maximizing the value of using the Aptify software, versus managing its performance.

Key Differentiators: Aptify Cloud Hosting

So what does Aptify Cloud Hosting offer that makes is superior to other cloud hosting offerings?

Feature

Standard Cloud Hosting

Aptify Cloud Hosting

On-demand self-service:

Obtain, configure, and deploy apps without any IT heavy lifting.

aptify cloud key differiators aptify cloud key differiators

Resource pooling:

Centralize your IT resources while spreading use across all available servers. Maximizes shared computing power to efficiently distribute capacity as needed.

aptify cloud key differiators aptify cloud key differiators

Accessibility:

Access your business applications from any device, laptop, desktop, or mobile. 

aptify cloud key differiators aptify cloud key differiators

Monitoring:

  • Database performance monitoring
  • Database integrity, blocking / deadlocks
  • Hardware performance monitoring
  • System resource monitoring
  • Third-party monitoring
  • Response to system alerts
  • Resolution of website, database, server issues

 

aptify cloud key differiators

Reporting: Every month, clients receive a comprehensive report that summarizes all aspects of their system, from high-level availability to database table growth and detailed SQL Server health statistics. Recommendations for proactive actions that should be taken are provided, when warranted.

  • Monthly performance and utilization reports
  • Statistics on cases, database size, growth, and record version changes

 

aptify cloud key differiators

Optimization: Our full-time DBA staff is trained to identify performance issues and tune the database to perform optimally when they can, including optimizing indexes based on observing real-life usage. When configurations are identified as the likely cause of a performance concern, our findings are passed to the client and they may choose to investigate the problem or use Aptify Consulting / Professional Services to resolve the issue.

  • Analysis of performance issues and recommendations to resolve them
  • Addition of database optimizations where necessary; identification of problem areas and notification to developers
  • Improvements and configurations to hardware throughputs
  • Up to 12 hours / month of optimization tasks

 

aptify cloud key differiators

Change Management: Change Management is a critical best practice to ensure all changes in the system are documented, tested, and deployed in a consistent manner. For organizations serious about IT compliance standards, it is a must to be able to survive an audit and prove that sufficient controls are in place.

  • Staging of changes submitted by the client
  • Performance of sanity check on any changes
  • Production of change in the system
  • Application of hot-fixes

 

aptify cloud key differiators

Back-Ups and Disaster Recovery: Aptify backs-up client databases on an hourly basis to an offsite location; we also test the database restore on a regular basis to ensure the back-up is usable. This service is a core component of our Aptify Cloud offering.

  • Configuration of SQL database back-ups to local disk
  • Ensure that hourly back-ups and transaction logs are stored offsite
  • Verification of weekly back-ups and regular testing of restore capabilities
  • Provision of software and back-up storage services

 

aptify cloud key differiators

Up-Time / Availability:

  • 99.9% for Infrastructure
  • 99.0% for Application Layer

 

aptify cloud key differiators

 

Click here to download this post as a PDF.

 

Benefits of Cloud Hosting for Your IT Department

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Aptify Cloud Hosting provides clients with a high-quality and cost-effective method of outsourcing data center and application administration activities typically associated with supporting an enterprise system.

While Aptify takes on the tasks required to keep your system running properly, your IT staff can focus on maximizing the value of using Aptify, instead of simply managing it. Aptify Cloud Hosting offers:

  • Lower Total Cost of Ownership
  • Scalability
  • Reliability/Redundancy
  • Disaster Recovery
  • Guaranteed Uptime

More than these benefits though; Michael Miller, author of Cloud Computing: Web-Based Applications That Change the Way You Work and Collaborate Online, highlights the power of cloud hosting as one of the key benefits for IT professionals. He explains that, with on demand technology, you gain infinite power with less investment. The key of an IT department is to manage the power required for users within the annual budget supplied. This budget can expand without warning as expectations of users and environment grow during peak times. With cloud hosting, you can provide more computing power for lower costs.  

 

Aptify Cloud Architecture

Aptify provides robust infrastructure hosting with its standard managed services offering, allowing you to focus on your core business, while Aptify’s team of experts host and maintain your Aptify database and applications in our secure private cloud. The Aptify private cloud is a powerful, shared pool of computing resources that provide a high degree of availability, redundancy, uptime, and scalability.

Aptify uses VMWare’s vSphere 5 cloud operating system to power this offering. Each client that runs on the Aptify private cloud has isolated instances of the application and all supporting components.

Cloud_Image.jpg Click here to download this post as a PDF.

Aptify Cloud Security

Aptify Cloud boasts a large redundant VMWare cloud. This includes redundant storage with every server, firewall, switch, power connection, and network cable redundant for security and data safety.

Our Internet access provides a blend of 11 Tier 1 backbone providers, where traffic is optimally routed through the best path. This is the heart of what allows Aptify to provide 99.5% Service Level Agreements.

Your cloud would be hosted on a set of virtual servers including production and test instances on dedicated VLAN’s, completely segregated from other customers. This includes an SSAE16 compliance report for security and data integrity, which you can use with your own security compliance audits. Aptify also provides a PCI Compliance report for service providers. The responsibility for PCI Compliance remains with the customer, but our ROC report works towards your own PCI compliance audit.

Aptify maintains an offsite backup system where restores are tested monthly. In addition, there is a documented DR plan in place that is tested every year, using the Amazon EC2 cloud as our DR site.

End-to-end monitoring from both outside and inside the network includes external monitoring for uptime, internal monitoring for database performance and integrity, system resource and performance testing. We have 24/7 on-call staff that respond to any potential issues proactively.

You will receive a monthly report on your uptime, database size, growth trends and performance, support case stats, and record version change stats. Finally, you will receive a fully staffed IT department, including infrastructure engineers, application support specialists, and expert database administrators, all well versed in running an Aptify-based system.

This team is constantly analyzing your systems, looking for improvements to database (what data is useful, what isn’t) or infrastructure performance and will make recommendations to help. They can also identify configurations that may be causing performance issues and feed information back to your developers.

The Australian Department of Defence have a list of cloud security considerations your can view here.

 

Benefits for Your Business’ Bottom Line

We've talk a lot about the technological advances of using cloud hosting, but how does this positively impact your organization's bottom line?

Calculate the Return on Investment (ROI)

Before building an ROI model, we have to understand the ways to measure the success and cost returns of utilizing cloud hosting.

The Open Group, a global consortium that enables the achievement of business objectives through IT standards, have created six key metrics that translate to benefits for your business:

1. Speed of Cost Reduction: Cost of Adoption/De-Adoption

Typically, your business will be able to write off the cost of cloud hosting faster than the traditional on-premise solution due to the overall cost of ownership, the ability to scale up and down services, and the advantages of losing on-premise costs.

The cost of change in an ROI business case is less in cloud computing as the choice of selected cloud services is more stable and more cost-effective than traditional ownership.

2. Optimizing Ownership Use

Cloud Computing can help an enterprise achieve the goal of a more cost-effective asset-management lifecycle process for the IT portfolio, to optimize both design and run-time performance.

The key benefits to cloud computing ROI from a business case perspective are in the optimization of the total asset portfolio.

3. Rapid Provisioning

Provisioning refers to the time needed to make a services available in the cloud. By using cloud hosting, you can compress the provisioning time from a week to hours, leading to creating an entire new business model for your organization.

The impact of rapid provisioning on ROI business cases can be profound. Examples in the government/federal sector as well as financial services and consumer goods are already evident and pointing the way to the emergence of online cloud-based marketplaces as de facto standards for current and future trading between suppliers and buyers of services.

4. Increase Margins

Cloud computing enables business to pursue new and existing markets by rapid entry and exit of the products and services. It enables enterprises to “land and expand” in markets with an infrastructure and service capacity that can grow with the business.

The impact on a ROI business case is that, an enterprise can make more money or better use of existing investments through cloud computing.

5. Dynamic Usage: Elastic Provisioning and Service Management

Traditional licensing associated with ownership, number of users, support, and maintenance costs and services are being challenged by the pay-as-you-go model found in on-demand cloud hosting.

The impact of dynamic provisioning on the cloud computing ROI business case is that the façade of service management becomes more “digital.” With the emergence of Internet services, it is now commonplace in residential markets for services and products to be viewed and provisioned online.

6. Risk and Compliance Improvement

Cloud hosting offers greater options for risk and compliance especially in regard to the carbon footprint of your organization.

These metrics outline a new suite of business indicators that can be used to create an assessment of your current and future operational business and IT service needs relating to cloud hosting.

Read the entire Building Return on Investment from Cloud Computing Whitepaper here.

Find Where the Savings Come From

So now that you have built a ROI model, you can also lean on research that shows moving to cloud hosting leads to increased productivity for your staff and your systems.

Manchester University interviewed over 1,300 small to medium business in the United States and the United Kingdom and found that 88 percent of cloud users point to cost savings and 56 percent of respondents agree that cloud computing has helped them boost profits. The report shows savings from:

  • lower IT costs
  • focus on strategy and innovation
  • savings on office costs
  • disposable cash to be reinvested in the business
  • IT projects happening faster

Advanced Strategic Planning for Technological Change

By moving to a cloud platform you are aiding your business bottom line by being ahead of the curve with technology change and planning for the end of life certainties of on-premise solutions. Leading Age has a great check-list on the Seven Steps to Developing an Effective IT Strategic Plan to get you started.

This still begs the question though: What should come first: the Strategic Plan or the Technology Plan? The good news is, you can do both! Build the technological changes into your strategic plan.

Bart Strong from Educause (a non-profit association and the foremost community of IT leaders and professionals committed to advancing higher education) encourages all executives and board members to ask questions in the following areas, when planning your technological (and association) future:

  • What is the limit of the performance of the technology currently in use?
  • What breakthrough technology is on the verge of being introduced?
  • What technology or devices in R&D will be deployed within five years?
  • Are there scalable technologies available?
  • What is the economic climate?
  • What are the changing needs of members?

Aptify Cloud Hosting Resources

For a summary of this article, download the PDF.

 

Aptify cloud hosting

About Angie Karpouzis

Angie Karpouzis was the Product Marketing Manager located in Aptify Australia's Sydney office. When Angie is not busy making people uncomfortable by tearing apart their favourite artist/film/tv show she is indulging in Sydney's live music scene or nerding out over popular culture. Engage with Angie on Twitter to discuss member engagement, how to build a community or email marketing.

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