[IMGCAP(1)]Internet connectivity is both the best friend and arch nemesis of cloud computing. One of the first questions a firm will ask when considering the inevitable move to the cloud is related to connectivity and reliability of the Internet.

Here are some points for your consideration:

Internet connectivity is more than just a pipe.
Much like a garden hose, passing water through it is actually more complicated than just turning on the faucet. The Internet is like multiple hoses connected together. If the connections leak, that’s called latency. If these connections fluctuate in their connection, that’s called jitter. If the hose gets kinked, well, that’s called a four-letter-word. The diameter of the hose is called bandwidth. The faucet, and specifically how wide open it is, will control how much of the hose’s capacity is used. A fire hose connected to the small spigot on the side of your house will create a sloppy trickle. A garden hose connected to a wide open fire hydrant will also result in a less than optimal flow of water as well.

Cloud performance will be only as good as the weakest link.
Given that most cloud providers use the public Internet, the user-experience is governed largely by the quality of the connection between the user’s computer and the cloud provider. Before jumping into the cloud, be certain that the vendor can provide reports indicating that bandwidth, latency, jitter, and overall usage of your connection exceed the cloud requirements. Because the Internet is a living, breathing, ever evolving system, it’s important that these tests be performed over a period of time so that the highs and lows can be evaluated. See the Xcentric Cloud Network Connectivity Guidelines for specific cloud requirements.

Internet reliability is necessary for more than just the cloud.
Internet connectivity is very reliable and has become nearly ubiquitous in recent years. That said, all technology is prone to failure. Your Internet connection will fail on occasion. In an ideal world, your firm will have more than one connection to rely on and like any key system, redundancy for that system is a must. Creating fault tolerance for your internet connection isn’t just necessary if you’re using the cloud. Most firms today rely heavily on their internet connections even when they may not consider themselves to be cloud-based firms.

Connection X 2 is key.
For any firm, an Internet outage will result in downtime for Internet-based tax research, remote access for home/remote users, e-mail (sending and receiving), self-hosted website, VoIP phone conversations, instant messaging, web browsing, etc. Can you live without these? If not, get a secondary connection that can be the fail-over line in the event that the primary connection fails. This connection will require a specific firewall/router combo that can accommodate more than one connection simultaneously.

Cloud is here.
Get a big pipe, get a good pipe, and get more than one.

Trey James is the co-founder and CEO of Xcentric, which specializes in IT solutions and certified networks for CPA firms. He can be reached at tjames@xcentric.com .

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