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News: Dont get left out of the Cloud Revolution

27 August 2013

cloud round

For many energy companies, cloud computing might seem like a daunting prospect, the sort of revolutionary technology that only global leaders need to invest in.  But in fact the opposite is true; the time, money and energy that can be saved through cloud computing is something that everyone should be taking advantage of. 

First things first, what is cloud computing? Basically, cloud computing is a virtual platform which allows companies to access their data: anytime, anywhere. Safely stored in the Cloud, company data is accessible for employees, enabling flexible working, enhancing efficiency and reducing costs. At the same time, data is highly secure, protected from any virtual or physical attacks. To make it a hat trick of benefits, Cloud computing connects colleagues globally ensuring uniformity.

But these could be applied to any industry so why is it so important that energy companies invest? Research has shown that adopting cloud computing within the energy sector can reduce energy consumption, lower carbon emissions, and decrease capital expenditure on IT resources while improving operational efficiency.

Graeme Gordon, CEO of Internet for Business (IFB) says, “In addition to the environmental benefits, Cloud computing has been seen to enhance efficiency and reduce costs amongst energy companies. The technology can also help address growing power and oil requirements, by acting as a platform to increasing amounts of data and enabling instant access to data.

“By improving the integration and standardisation of IT operations, Cloud computing can give companies the upper hand over their competitors. By connecting oil teams across the world, information can be shared instantly and as interaction between employees grows, Cloud computing can help develop a loyal unit.

“Energy companies have workers both on and off shore. Cloud computing provides a shared platform allowing the two to unite.  A strong communication network is essential within any industry but within the energy sector, it is crucial to the safety of workers as liaisons between on and offshore employees must remain consistent. Cloud computing will protect company data during practical disasters such as a fire in an office building. In the bigger picture, Cloud computing can transform a company into a highly responsive, highly connected corporation. “

The benefits are clear, but just how easy is it to upgrade companies to Cloud computing? Graeme Gordon recalls some of the frequently asked questions he gets when companies consider making the transition from traditional to Cloud:

 How can companies in the energy sector benefit from cloud?

The energy sector is a data heavy sector, with an average oil rig in the North Sea producing one terabyte of data every day, therefore the impact of downtime, even for a short period of time can have a massive impact on operations. Cloud services remove the expense and resources required to maintain, upgrade and update servers and infrastructure.

 How long does it take to transfer companies from the traditional network to cloud?

When moving to cloud, everything from the length of time it takes to the cost, is unique to each company. Companies which have older systems and are on the traditional hosted server will have to have their servers virtualised prior to them moving to cloud. Companies who have newer systems may already be virtualised which allows data to be moved to the cloud within hours.

To be more specific, the following are examples of factors which influence the time it takes to transfer existing IT infrastructures to cloud based services:

  • The amount of data and number of services/apps that needs to relocated from local to cloud based services
  • The speed and quality of the existing internet connection
  • What the client would like moved to cloud storage

Ask your potential provider for an estimated time as per your requirements. As with any major IT infrastructure change, there will be a little disruption but all reputable providers should liaise with customers to arrange a planned approach for the changeover.

Can workers still access data while it is being transferred?

This depends on the nature of the data being accessed and the method of transference to the cloud service that is going to be used. Live data that is continually updated may involve some interruption of access while being transferred. Reference data that is static can be transferred while being used by end user.

How does Cloud computing ensure that the virtual platform isn’t hacked? How it my data protected?

Cloud technology is one of the most secure, safe and resilient platforms for data.  Look for a provider whose cloud technology is built using IBM server and storage infrastructure and where VMware is used as virtualisation environment management software.   Backup & recovery service, which is provided with all cloud packages, work best with Quantum hardware and Commvault software.  Cisco equipment is essential for networks to ensure all parts of the cloud platform are built to provide a resilient and secure environment.

In order to minimise the threat of data loss, look for a provider with two cloud platforms, one as an active platform and one as a failover site. The recovery site is an exact replica of the primary site in every manner, so if for any reason the entire primary site would fail, all data is replicated on the failover site.

How many devices can you have connected and working on Cloud at any one time?

While there is no restriction to the number of devices that can access cloud based services, there can be limitations imposed by the cloud service being used. These limitations can be because of compute/bandwidth/application resource limits that are being provisioned as part of a cloud solution. Check with your provider before you sign up.

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