Make Sense of “the Cloud”

A practical approach to the next generation of credit union technology solutions


The buzz from “cloud computing” has become almost deafening. The promise of cloud-based solutions is so attractive it will perk up the ears of any CEO, CFO, or IT vice president.

Cloud computing, at its best, will change IT as we know it by sharply reducing the capital expenditures most companies make in technology infrastructure, vastly reducing time to market by making the deployment of new systems quick and painless. Cloud computer also offers the possibility of creating a more efficient way to manage and maintain systems, enabling IT staff to focus on solving business problems.

With cloud computing, instead of managing its own in-house data center, your credit union would simply tap into a limitless – and constantly available – resource pool that is run and managed by trained data center experts. This model is so attractive cloud providers are cropping up seemingly everywhere. In fact, IT research and advisory company, Gartner, predicts by 2012, 20% of businesses will own no IT assets at all.

But the dark side – and gray areas – of the cloud are also vast. How is security maintained? Who owns data stored in the Cloud? How reliable and financially stable are the providers? How can credit unions leverage the cloud for their infrastructure needs?

Cloud is an evolving solution and many of these key questions have not been fully defined. The National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) defines cloud computing as a model for “enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”

NIST has also defined five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models for Cloud. But as far as who owns the data and who is responsible for security, the technology is too new for much legal precedent. The questions surrounding this new exciting model makes choosing the right vendor critical.

The most important questions credit unions should be asking when evaluating cloud providers include:

  • How reputable is the vendor? Is it financially sound and likely to continue operations?
  • Will your members’ information be protected and stored separately (i.e., exist in a private versus public cloud)?
  • How does the vendor’s security model compare with the credit union’s model?
  • What type of SLA is acceptable for your credit union and its members? (e.g. 99.999% – How does this compare with internal downtime you experience today?)
  • Is the vendor familiar with credit unions and the multiple third-party connections they require (e.g. The Fed, online banking vendors, debit and credit card processors, etc.)?
  • Do you know the current cost of owning/running your own datacenter? What type of savings could you realize if this was all provided by a cloud solution?
  • How would cloud computing affect internal staffing levels? What other initiatives could the credit union move forward if it outsourced its data center functions?

Join Ongoing Operations for a live CUtv event on June 10 to discuss the cloud opportunity for credit unions. Register today for a reduced price of just $99.

Ongoing Operations is the leading provider of business continuity solutions to credit unions nationwide and is known for its collaborative approach to creating best of breed technology solutions. To learn more about its current and developing solutions or to contact Ongoing Operations with specific questions, visit



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