Cloud Basics – Understanding your Company’s Cloud Strategy
Most of us have heard the term “Cloud Computing” or “Cloud Services” and the buzz around the Cloud. Many of you may be using the Cloud in your personal computing life and may not have even realized it (gmail, dropbox, etc.). So how do you cut through the media information and take a serious look at what your corporate cloud strategy should really be, or if you should even have one at all?
The Traditional Computing Model
Here is a high-level overview of the basic services a business would need:
- Phone Service – Traditionally installed business phone system, all calls come into the organization through a phone line or connection to the public phone company. This business phone system controls the internal routing of the calls and delivers features such as call parking, voicemail etc.
- Business Applications – Typical business applications include accounting or billing software, CRM applications and industry proprietary applications (i.e. medical records software etc.).
- Email – This has become a staple in most business environments.
Data Storage – Where do we store our files such as spreadsheets, documents, databases and images?
In a traditional business computing infrastructure, a company would have many devices and servers that comprise the underlying platform for these services. Servers, data storage devices and networking equipment are used to build the backbone of the infrastructure with most of the equipment residing in the corporate data center. Complicated networks are often created for connectivity to remote users or branch offices.
Once a company’s infrastructure is built, many questions arise:
- How to protect the infrastructure from failure?
- If it fails, how do we continue to do business?
- Who manages the equipment?
- Where do we house the equipment?
- How often do we have to upgrade or replace the equipment?
The answers to these questions are often complicated and expensive. Most companies adapt by creating an IT group that works tirelessly at building and maintaining this environment, creating a constant cycle of IT related projects and capital costs.
Cloud – The Basics
The term “Cloud” is actually a computing concept and it means different things to many people. This may take the form of software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), Public Cloud, Private Cloud, Hybrid Cloud and more.
As a basic rule, public cloud computing generally refers to utilizing the resources from a provider that has already built the infrastructure or software platform in a pay for use or shared tenant model. This allows a company to move the IT budgets from a capital expenditure model to more of an operational expenditure model, thus reducing large IT expenses.
Private cloud computing generally refers to a company model or building your own scalable infrastructure with virtual technology. It can also be a dedicated portion of a public cloud provider’s infrastructure without necessarily sharing resources. The Private Cloud model offers greater security and often times is more flexible in its use since the infrastructure is dedicated to a single company organization.
Hybrid cloud is a mix of two or more clouds, typically a public cloud model, perhaps Salesforce.com or Microsoft’s Office 365, with a private cloud dedicated server infrastructure for a company business application.
PaaS, IaaS and SaaS all refer to “as a service” models where a company utilizes platform, infrastructure or software as a service, typically under a subscription payment plan. Again, think Salesforce.com for SaaS and an example.
Why the Cloud?
In a very practical sense for a small to medium sized business, the cloud is about outsourcing your computing needs to a Cloud or Managed Service Provider that can manage those services on a scalable utility model. Let’s look at each basic business need and see what the cloud can do for those services.
- Business Applications
- Data Storage
The answers to the original questions become the responsibility of the Cloud provider. Many Providers offer service level agreements with up to 99.999% uptime guarantees. Most offer management options that include both co-management and complete management of devices and software. The features, functionality and services offered by a CSP or MSP are less expensive than buying or building it yourself.
Free your company from the traditional computing model. Cloud allows anywhere, any device accessibility with built in scalability and true business continuity. Get your applications up and running faster, with improved management and less maintenance. The cloud enables your company to quickly adjust resources to meet fluctuating and unpredictable business demand while avoiding upfront infrastructure costs.
In short moving to the cloud allows your company to focus on building business, not maintaining a computer network. Leave that job to Ancero Managed IT.