Clearing the fog from cloud services

July 06, 2016

A cloud services primer
You have been hearing so much about “moving to the cloud” from your IT people for the last few years, you’re probably wondering if these folks have begun sprouting wings and taken up playing the harp. Most financial institution execs have by now spent a fair amount of their time researching just what all those alphabet-soup-as-a-service options are, and likely come away somewhat more knowledgeable, but perhaps a bit more confused. It’s no wonder, with the plethora of opinions, outdated information, and downright misinformation that’s available online. The intent of this article is to clear up some of those misconceptions, address some common objections, and give you some clear, non-technical facts about what moving to the cloud can mean for your business.

Seasoned decision makers usually view new technology with skepticism. That’s a good thing; jumping on the bandwagon of every new technical innovation that comes along will quickly exhaust budgets, increase frustration with less than fully functional systems, and expose data to unknown security risks. Cloud services, while still evolving, have matured enough to be a secure, reliable technology worthy of serious consideration. Still, it must offer value, and that means it must make sense financially for your business.

Moving applications and data storage to a hosting facility can eliminate the huge capital expenditures of continuous hardware purchases and the support staff required to maintain those systems. Downtime is reduced (another cost savings) by shifting responsibility for system and software upgrades, backups, and other general systems monitoring and maintenance to the datacenter personnel who will perform these tasks with minimal involvement of your internal staff. Licensing is simplified, eliminating potentially costly software audits. Disaster recovery is simplified by having your systems located in a hardened datacenter. For most organizations, IT efficiency is immensely improved, meaning significant cost savings, and frankly the foremost reason for considering a move to cloud computing.

Are there disadvantages? There can be, but in most cases the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, and a move to a cloud environment becomes an easy business decision. Certainly there are valid reasons a cloud environment may not be appropriate for a specific organization, although some disadvantages of cloud services stated online are inaccurate.
Here are a few of the most common objections heard from financial institution executives:

“I can do a better job hosting and managing my own IT.”

What advice would a financial institution offer to a customer who believes he can manage his money better than anyone else? The primary focus of an IT organization and datacenter is technology; keeping things running safely, securely, and reliably. Just as a financial institution has the resources and expertise to provide high quality financial services, a technology company has invested in superior technical capabilities. In most cases, that technology investment surpasses what would make sense for any other type of business to invest in to get the same level of service.

“I’ll never use cloud services.”

Chances are, you are probably already using a cloud based service. Most of the core services and payment processors have gone to a cloud model, and administrative tools have gone the same route. Software vendors are now taking advantage of hosting applications in the cloud to make version control, license management, and distribution more cost effective.

“I don’t want to give up ownership of my data.”

You shouldn’t and you won’t! Much like a storage facility for physical goods, your data will be managed by your hosting company, but the data still belongs to you. Your data is hosted in the cloud, but it is not accessible by anyone else or shared in any way.

“I’m concerned about the security of cloud services.”

It’s a valid concern, so making the right decision about where your data will be stored is essential. Verify that your trusted technology partner is using a top-tier datacenter. Request an onsite visit to the facility. The physical security offered by a datacenter is likely to go well beyond most business locations, as access is heavily restricted and monitored much more intensely than would be acceptable for locations where public access is required. Datacenters invest in ensuring the security of customer data with security tools and controls such as physical protection, advanced encryption, multi-factor authentication, automatic backup, identity and access management controls. Your technology partner will regularly execute penetration testing and continuously audit access logs compliance with industry regulations and standards.

Choose your partner wisely
Choosing the right technology partner is an often overlooked concern, yet it is one of the most important considerations when moving to cloud services. The ideal technology partner will have not only technical acumen, but also understand the way you do business and the compliancy issues your business must adhere to. For a financial institution, this means selecting a technology partner who specializes in your industry and is SSAE 16 certified to assure a smooth transition and avoid running astray of regulatory compliance. A top-quality technology partner with financial industry expertise will utilize an appropriate datacenter that is certified for hosting financial institutions. Above all, pick a partner you are comfortable working with, whose standards meet your own, and is a good fit with the rest of your organization.

EverSpace: CalTech’s custom-designed cloud services
EverSpace is CalTech’s brand of full-featured cloud services. This top-of-the-line product provides a complete, turnkey, virtual IT infrastructure solution for mid-sized and community financial institutions for a fixed, predictable price. The management of your virtualized data infrastructure is 100% overseen by our expert staff—CalTech’s real people—who are dedicated to providing you with service surpassing your expectations. As CalTech’s complete solution, we mean just that; a comprehensive, worry-free IT infrastructure including all licensing, patch management, system backups, and an iron-clad threat protection system, along with a disaster recovery solution designed to keep you in business in the event of any emergency. EverSpace is CalTech’s premier, no-excuses solution.
Recognizing that there is no one-size-fits-all cloud solution for our financial institution partners, CalTech also offers EverSpace Recover. EverSpace Recover provides all of the same top-tier IT infrastructure management, backup, and disaster recovery services, but allows organizations to utilize add-ons for additional services as they are required, allowing customization of the full-service EverSpace solution to be tailored to specific needs. A third offering, EverSpace Colo, is designed for organizations who desire to own their own hardware but still take advantage of CalTech’s hardened datacenters and expert management services.

Let’s get personal
As stated above, the intent of this article is to give you a very high-level overview of cloud services, and touch on the solutions CalTech has designed to make our cloud services meet the needs of your business. For more detailed information, CalTech has made additional white papers and videos available at the links found on this website. We have made these resources available for your reference, but because we believe the best way to do business is in person, we would also like to offer you an invitation to schedule a no obligation consultation with our experts. The discussion will be tailored specifically to you, whether you would like additional general information or an in-depth technical discussion; we’ll provide the right resources to answer all your questions completely and clearly. We would also like to further extend this invitation to schedule a visit to our Austin area datacenter, at our expense, to see for yourself what a world-class datacenter should look like.
To get things started today, contact us at 877-223-6401 or online by clicking this link.

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