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What Is "The Cloud"?

Bolt Forward Cloud Services

“What’s your cloud strategy?”

“Do we have the cloud?”

The term “cloud” is kind of nebulous (see what I did, there?). “The cloud” is a more logical concept than an actual thingy. When you put a bunch of your music and pictures into your Dropbox or Google Drive account’s storage, you are using Dropbox’s or Google’s cloud – servers they maintain at a secure facility somewhere and let folks login to their account and use on strictly defined terms. Cloud.

Suppose your company has a roaming sales force that needs to get access to files during the day, from wherever they happen to be. You might setup a Remote Desktop Server at your company office and allow folks (who securely logon to it) to use that server to gain access to the company data (or some of it) from wherever they are. The data is still located at your office, and users get it from there. Not cloud. Remote access.

Security concerns might motivate you to isolate that Remote Desktop Server and any servers that host the data the remote users need from the rest of your company network. Your servers are still at your office, but some are more available from outside the office than others. Not cloud. Remote access with a DMZ (demilitarized zone/firewall). Remote access with heightened access and security.

Bolt Forward Cloud Services

Suppose need for remote access to this data grows beyond the amount of Internet you want to pay for and maintain at the main office (sales force triples, your company buys out a competitor in the Bahamas, what have you). You could have Bolt Forward install servers for you at a co-location facility, a separate data center, and put the data your people need to get to from anywhere on those servers. This is sort of like your own private cloud, that you yourself maintain. Not (quite what people mean when they say) cloud.

If pushing your data to a separate data center does not meet your needs for some reason, you could have Amazon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, or others host some or all of your data in their managed network, or have Bolt Forward manage it for you at one of these providers. This could be the ticket for you, but you would absolutely have to maintain a very high-bandwidth, very stable network connection to the Internet from your office(s). No Internet access would mean no access to that data. Cloud!

Any one of these strategies, or some combination of them, is probably just right for your company. These days, most of us use the cloud in our personal lives, and at work, to some extent. Most companies have some kind of cloud service their employees use. Office 365 is probably the most popular and/or widely deployed. Many companies use some kind of cloud service for storage of older server backups.

Bolt Forward helps customers do all of these things, however best meets their needs.

Bolt Forward Cloud Services

Some of our customers use their data and applications from their company offices during work hours, and then logoff and go home. They store some backups offsite, in case of disaster, but otherwise their entire operation takes place in one location. Such a customer could use Office 365, but even then it would make sense to store all the data at the company office.

Some of our customers have several locations and have some data at each location. We have hosted some shared data that needs to be available to the several locations at data centers, sort of like a private cloud, just for that customer.

A few customers use quite a few hosted applications. These applications are hosted in the clouds (secure, isolated, Internet-connected network servers) maintained by the companies that essentially rent the applications to the company/customer. That is very much using the cloud.

Practically no one uses the cloud for everything. Perhaps that time will come. Until it does, Bolt Forward can help you decide what should go where, and help you get it all setup and running just the way you need it.


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