In the age of the internet, it has become increasingly common for organizations to move their EDI from on site servers to the cloud. The cloud allows for users to access their data, virtual server, and software as a service (SAS) in a secure environment wherever an internet connection is available. It also ensures that users don’t have to deal with the maintenance of an on-site server. This results in financial savings, as time and money will no longer have to be spent on taking care of your own hardware. EDI will function the same regardless of whether data is stored on an on-site server or the cloud. This is because you have the ability to install your existing system on the cloud rather than starting from scratch.
What does this mean to you? Now, organizations have a choice and can consider the pros and cons of moving to the cloud. The decision to host in the cloud or on premise will be based on cost, reliability, and security.
Moving your EDI to the cloud means renting space from a cloud provider. Two popular platforms are Amazon EC2 and Microsoft Azure.
Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is a web service which allows users to obtain virtual servers, also known as instances. Users can choose the type of instance they want, the desired template (which can be based on Windows or Linux), and the quantity of instances needed. Amazon EC2 provides several options for payment. The first is on demand pricing, which allows you to simply pay for what you use without requiring a long term financial commitment. The second is reserved instance, which allows you to get a discount in the range of 50 to 75% for either an all upfront, partial upfront, or no upfront payment. The third is spot instance pricing, which allows you to specify the type of instance you want, the number of instances you require, and the maximum price you are willing to pay per instance hour. Click here for detailed information on Amazon EC2’s pricing.
Microsoft Azure is another web service customers can use to obtain virtual servers, also known as virtual machines. Users can choose which virtual machine they want, including Microsoft Server and Lenox, and specify which size machine they need. Microsoft Azure also offers multiple payment options. You can choose the pay as you go subscription, which, like Amazon’s on demand pricing, allows you to just pay for what you use without a long term commitment. You also have the option of a 12 month prepaid subscription which costs a minimum of $6,000 and gets you a 5% discount on Azure’s services. Click here for detailed information on Microsoft Azure’s pricing.
Because moving your EDI to the cloud means it will be hosted by a third party, many wonder how reliable it will be. Cloud storage companies understand that if their services aren’t reliable, they won’t survive in the market. To ensure that information remains accessible, it’s stored on multiple servers. This is called redundancy. Redundancy ensures that different servers rely on different power supplies. As a result, even if one power supply fails, the data survive.
When it comes to reliability, an important term to know is uptime. Uptime refers to the amount of time that a computer is operational, whereas downtime is the time when it’s not operational. When looking at cloud providers, it’s necessary to know their guaranteed percentage of uptime. Amazon EC2 and Microsoft Azure’s service level agreements both guarantee 99.95% uptime.
The last item to consider when it comes to moving to the cloud is the security of your data. In particular, hackers pose a threat. According to Netskope’s January 2015 Netskope Cloud Report™, approximately 15% of business cloud users have had their data compromised at some point. With more and more data being stored on cloud servers, hackers have the opportunity to access huge amounts of data in one attack.
Cloud companies know that it’s important to have a good security record in order to succeed in the market. That being said, customers must also be diligent to minimize the risk of data being hacked.
When it comes to data security, the first step on the part of a customer is password selection. As with any password, this password shouldn’t be easy to guess and shouldn’t be shared with outsiders. To limit the amount of users able to access the data, customers can use the authorization processes to specify which people are able to access the system’s information.
Finally, cloud companies typically use encryption, in which information is encoded using a complex algorithm. It’s almost impossible to decode encrypted information without having an encryption key. It is recommended that you keep your encryption key saved on site rather than on the cloud.
Ultimately, the customer has a responsibility to ensure data security whether that data is stored on site or on the cloud. When moving to the cloud, customers must do their research of the cloud provider’s environment and protections. There should also be a plan in place in the event of an incident and an understanding of how much liability lies with the cloud provider.
Summing Up: The Pros and Cons of the Cloud
While cost, reliability, and security are three issues to look at in-depth regarding the cloud, there are other factors which can come into play as you make your decision. What are some other pros and cons of moving to the cloud? Here are a few:
- No need to buy or maintain hardware
- Cost efficiency
- Easier to recover information
- Easy and convenient access to information
- Significantly increased storage space
- Lack of complete control
- Reliant upon internet connection
- Potential for downtime
- Security concerns
- Lack of flexibility
While the cloud is obviously not perfect, its advantages can’t be ignored. Ultimately, it’s important to realize that your organization has a real choice. Whether you choose to move to the cloud or keep your data on site, you can do so knowing that you’re making the best choice for your organization’s needs based on your research and assessment.
How DCS Can Help
If you’ve decided to move your EDI to the cloud, DCS can help. DCS EDI Specialists can provide:
- Installation of new EDI software (development and production)
- Testing of the connection to the EDI gateway
- Connection from the cloud to your customers
- Training for your employees
Customers won’t tolerate disruptions in EDI as you’re switching servers. To ensure a smooth transition, we offer our ERP Conversion Service to speed up your conversion and avoid pitfalls. To see an example of how we helped our client Birchwood Casey move their BizManager system to the cloud, check out our case study. To learn more, contact us today for your free assessment.