How do you educate 30 baseball teams about new policies – and make sure they follow them? That was the challenge Major League Baseball faced as it moved toward implementing “pace of play” rules aimed at shortening the length of games.
As part of the plan, the MLB installed phone lines in every stadium, connecting the dugout, the bullpen and the video review rooms, which teams use to prevent sign stealing but can contribute to excessive visits to the pitcher’s mound. Now the league can centrally monitor, review and record every time a coach picks up the phone.
The league’s solution was in the cloud – specifically, a private cloud, securely accessed through the public internet, that all stadiums can count on.
Of course, every business has its own needs. As you consider which cloud environment makes sense for your company – public, private or hybrid – ask these questions.
What level of privacy and security do you need?
If you’re in a highly regulated industry – like financial services, government or healthcare – consider which data should be kept on-site versus a private cloud. Do you need to protect patient data? Comply with the regulations of multiple countries? A hybrid cloud solution could work well for you.
“When we first set out to make a decision around the cloud, we knew we wanted to get out of owning our own data center and migrate to a combination of private and public cloud,” says James Swanson, Monsanto’s CIO. “We consciously decided not to go all-in on public cloud because there were things we wanted to keep internal.”
A hybrid solution enables you to keep control of some parts of your communications infrastructure while still reaping cloud benefits like scalability, resiliency and cost management. So, if privacy and control are essential to your business, this route may provide the flexibility you need.
How important is reliability?
In terms of reliability, public cloud environments have good track records, but they’re not as reliable as private clouds. Think bandwidth. If your company generates heavy usage both inside and outside the organization, reliability is bound to be compromised. If your workforce needs immediate and reliable access to complex data – for example, large multimedia files – consider either a private cloud or storing the data on-site.
Another consideration is call quality. A contact center needs 100 percent dependability so that your customers can always get through. If this is essential for your business, consider a hybrid solution – a private cloud combined with an on-site back-up. Such redundancy protects you from costly downtime – if you lose your on-site system, the cloud is there. Likewise, if a network failure hits your cloud provider, your in-house infrastructure becomes your safety net.
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Will the communications system grow and flex with you?
For organizations with fewer than 500 users, the public cloud environment is the most cost-effective. For one thing, your business can pay on a user-per-month basis. In addition, even though you still use a public internet connection (also known as “over the top” or OTT), it can be combined with private network solutions.
A good example of this is the MLB’s system. Although the number of users is relatively small – fewer than 20 phones in each stadium – a hybrid solution using the public cloud via a secure private network gives the league room to scale up when necessary and allows it to maintain reliability and control.
How can you connect to the cloud?
Public internet connectivity. In this model, public internet connections – like business-grade DSL and E1/T1 – are used for voice and video services. This is an economical choice for small and growing organizations.
Multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) uses high‐speed telecommunications networks to transport packets over virtual links. The technology routes data efficiently because it communicates known information about the network’s topology. It also provides high call quality and a secure connection.
SD-WAN (software-defined wide area networking) allows organizations to reap the benefits of both public internet and MPLS. SD-WAN employs one or multiple network connections to prioritize applications, using a mixture of OTT and/or OTT with MPLS services to review and evaluate all network traffic. To ensure data and call quality are maximized, it can switch circuits quickly.
What goes in the cloud? What stays?
Experts agree that preparation is key to successfully using the cloud. So before moving forward, be sure to evaluate your needs.
Monsanto’s Swanson recommends you start by assessing your current infrastructure. “Now’s the time to identify the applications that really matter,” he emphasizes. Identify redundant functionality across applications, then focus on the key business and technical reasons for moving to the cloud. Use those decisions to shape the specific criteria for determining which applications should move to the cloud. Start with an overall digital strategy and work backwards, he urges, evaluating each offering in the marketplace against your value proposition.
“What do you need to fulfill your strategy in the most effective way that gives you both the financial return, but also the capabilities that you’ll need as you go forward?” he asks. “The more refined your strategy is, the more tailored your cloud environments can be.”