As a 20-year veteran of the IT industry – today as Director of Marketing for Enterprise Translation Products at SDL, and formerly as a Senior Industry Analyst for the Aberdeen Group covering Datacenters and the Cloud – the early part of my career made me well-versed in issues relating to servers, networks and storage in the datacenter.

Then along came this thing called Cloud, and my clients began asking for advice on how and when they should utilize this new form of computing over the traditional on-premise model.

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Evaluating your applications

After many months of study and conversation with industry experts I came to the conclusion that every IT VP needs to take an inventory of their applications and divide them into two buckets:

  • The first group – those applications that give the enterprise a competitive advantage or are mission critical to the performance of the organization. These applications should be deployed in an enterprise data center. These apps need to be controlled – nurtured, enhanced and protected – behind the enterprise firewall. For most enterprises these account for about one fourth to one third of all deployed applications.
  • The remaining software applications should be moved to the Cloud. These apps, for things like employee payroll, salesforce management, email, etc. provide no competitive differentiation and are fine to be used as a shared resource in the Cloud. In addition, Cloud providers have far larger budgets to provide superior services such as data backup and security than your average mid-sized enterprise can afford.

What about language translation tools? After working at SDL for a couple of years I believe the answer is that they can be deployed in either location, depending on the enterprises’ view of the value of their data.

Cloud vs on-premise translation

For many global enterprises translation is part of the content management process. You create, for example, your product specs in a content management system (CMS), send it to a translation management app, get it converted to a dozen languages or so and then get it into your content archive.

For organizations that view translation as just part of the content management process, SDL offers Cloud versions of our entire enterprise portfolio, including SDL Language Cloud, our machine translation (MT) engine. This is hosted in a Class 3 data center. Communications between the engines and the user is encrypted and a sophisticated password schema can be deployed. Moreover source and translated content is destroyed when the translation is completed.

However, there is another class of organizations for which their data is mission critical. If their product plans, technical specs, internal communications, financial information, or other types of content were ever to be made public they would suffer great damage. For these companies no data security promises by any application vendor is good enough; they want complete control of their data at all times, never letting it outside of their firewall.

Affordable and manageable while retaining control

These are the companies for which we provide SDL ETS, an on-premise version of our Cloud machine translation offering. This product allows companies to gain all the advantages of machine translation – much reduced cost, real-time speed, volume translations – without ever losing control of their data.

SDL’s new XMT technology makes the ETS footprint affordable and manageable, requiring a dual processor (physical or virtual) server with 4 GB for the base engine and an additional 4GB of memory for each deployed language pair. The MT engine can still be integrated with other parts of the translation and content management ecosystem whether in the enterprise datacenter or deployed in the Cloud.

When translation is part of a mission critical process companies should consider on-premise translation tools, including SDL ETS. While the Cloud is getting all the press, it is nice to have the option of a good-old, on-premise application buttoned up and locked down only to badged employees. Some companies are just not willing to offer any degree of trust to a Cloud provider as the consequences of failure would be just too high.