One of the major benefits of Microsoft Dynamics NAV that has been touted in recent years is its use of the cloud. Through a combination of development for mobile devices and creating a Web-based client that is accessible through an Internet connection, Microsoft has made it possible for users to access critical data anywhere they go. This can be useful for small and midsized manufacturers to show their production process in front of potential customers. With this in mind, how does a company find the right cloud-based solution for their business? Understanding each hosting solution, along with understanding needs as they relate to the software, can help.

Being out in the open public
There are three hosting methods used for software as a service. The first and most popular is the public cloud, in which a company rents out space on series of servers at a data center elsewhere, sharing the space with other companies. The second is the "private cloud." This hosted method usually entails a company receiving dedicated space and bandwidth on a single server or set of servers, though it can also mean cloud technology installed on-premise. The final approach, the hybrid cloud, is gaining in popularity. It entails having some portion of a company's IT infrastructure on-premise or hosted, while having some apps and data in a public setting.

The differences between each SaaS approach are distinct. The public cloud, for example, offers the most flexibility, allowing companies to scale up or down based on their needs. At the same time, it yields the least amount of control over how software or data is managed, which can be a problem if companies have proprietary information they don't want passed around. The private cloud provides a combination of high security and control, while maintaining some level of accessibility. However, most implementations are inflexible when it comes to meeting demand. Finally, the hybrid cloud addresses the concerns a company would have with using a public host while minimizing the tradeoffs. This comes with issues such as maintaining synchronization as well as virtual machines, which can lead to some redundancy issues.

Well-met needs
With these options in mind, what should a manufacturer look for when finding a solution that's right for them? MS Dynamics World suggests a few basic needs that should be considered. The first and probably most important is the ability to meet compliance requirements. Many industries are regulated by different government agencies, and having all the proper documentation to meet specific guidelines can require strict security protocols that are only found in certain solutions. Another is how information is classified in business operations. Depending on how impactful data is, companies may need to utilize something that is more private or public, based on the needs of the company.

Outside of security, there is the matter of performance being a factor in what hosting method to use. The question of what kind of workload a cloud service can handle should be first and foremost, followed by uptime guarantees. Finally, there is the matter of whether a company needs scalability for its operations. From there, the business should look to more specific needs as they select its Dynamics NAV cloud solution.

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