So what exactly is “The Cloud”? Do you really know the answer, or do you just think you know. Everyone in the industry has thrown the word “cloud” around, cloud this, cloud that, but is there really just one definition?
Some leading suppliers define cloud as “the delivery of on-demand computing resources—everything from applications to data centers—over the Internet and on a pay-for-use basis. “ – that’s a bit broad, don’t you think?
Other suppliers define cloud as :
1. A dynamic managed compute infrastructure – with scalable, virtualized, dedicated and multi-tenant platforms
2. Enhanced customer user experience – greater user control with easy to access self-service portal for on-demand service.
3. Flexible business terms – usage-based billing terms and fractional compute resources
4. Meets a range of enterprise needs – from burstable compute for seasonal Web traffic, rapid delivery of SaaS, and flexible test and development environments
Well we’re getting better…
U.S National Institue of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines the cloud as : Cloud computing is “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 identified five essential characteristics of cloud computing: (1) on-demand service, (2) broad network access, (3) resource pooling, (4) rapid elasticity, and (5) measured service.
There we go! Now that’s a definition!
So really rather than being new technology, cloud computing is just a new way of delivering and consuming computing resources to a platform made up of a combination of different technologies, all accessed remotely.
Now you just have to determine which deployment model is right for you. There are 3 types: Public (community), Private and Hybrid
Public : services and infrastructure are provided offsite and accessed via the internet.
- Benefits: greatest level of efficiency in shared resources
- Disadvantages: More vulnerable to security breaches
Private: Services and infrastructure are maintained on a private network
- Benefits: Greatest level of security and control
- Disadvantages: Company still has to purchase and maintain the software and infrastructure.
Hybrid : mix of public and private options
- Benefits: keep each aspect of your business running as efficiently and securely as possible
- Disadvantages: you have to manage multiple security platforms and ensure that all aspects are able to communicate efficiently.
That’s all well and good, but now how do you know which deployment model to pick?
Here are some guidelines that can help direct you towards the appropriate choice.:
Where should you use a private cloud?
- Your business is your data and your applications. Therefore, control and security are paramount.
- Your business is part of an industry that must conform to strict security and data privacy issues.
- Your company is large enough to run a next generation cloud data center efficiently and effectively on its own.
Where should you use a public cloud?
- Your standardized workload for applications is used by lots of people, such as e-mail.
- You need to test and develop application code.
- You have SaaS (Software as a Service) applications from a vendor who has a well-implemented security strategy.
- You need incremental capacity (the ability to add computer capacity for peak times).
- You’re doing collaboration projects.
- You’re doing an ad-hoc software development project using a Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering cloud.
Where should you use a hybrid cloud?
- Your company wants to use a SaaS application but is concerned about security. Your SaaS vendor can create a private cloud just for your company inside their firewall. They provide you with a virtual private network (VPN) for additional security.
- Your company offers services that are tailored for different vertical markets. You can use a public cloud to interact with the clients but keep their data secured within a private cloud.
So once you decide on which model would fit your business, you then have to ask yourself,
What exactly do you want to do in the cloud? Well, there’s lots to choose from!
To start with, there are 3 different service models:
SaaS : (software as a service) the actual applications offered to users ( no software to purchase, install update etc. all is handled by the service provider)
PaaS: (Platform as a service) allows users to develop their own Web-based applications or to customize existing applications using one or more programming languages and development tools. It essentially includes services for developing and deploying applications. (get to market faster)
IaaS:( infrastructure as a service) is the virtual delivery of computing resources in the form of hardware, networking, and storage services ( biggest advantage is the use of its dynamic scaling ability)
Once you’ve chosen your deployment model and service model, you’re ready to customize.
So really cloud computing can mean a whole plethora of different things. Everything from servers , storage, software applications, disaster recovery, backup, enhanced security, for long periods, short periods, in-between periods etc. The list goes on, the point is, is that cloud is what YOU make it, and we are here to help you figure out exactly what you need.
So what problems do you want to solve by expanding into the cloud?
Here are the top 5 issues that seem to continuously be our customers’ minds:
–Faster Speed to Market: On Average it would take months to put together a complete physical environment, in the cloud it could be fully deployed and accessible within hours
– Financial Efficiency: moving to the cloud will ensure that you will save money by eliminating the excess money spent on underutilized assets. Also remember that with resource pooling, it eliminates the need for each user to have their own dedicated infrastructure, reducing energy consumption which leads to the overall reduction of cost.
– Business Expansion: when expanding a business there are a lot of risks involved. You want to minimize the capital investment, and with cloud you can do just that. If things don’t work out the way they were planned, you can just close up shop and move on, or if your venture is more successful than anticipated (which is hopefully the result) you can quickly launch more infrastructure to satisfy the new data explosion.
– Global Expansion : With a company already possessing a strong presence in the US, it only makes sense to go global. But going global comes with its own challenges, like having to duplicate your entire infrastructure to go global as well. This is an extremely large financial commitment and cloud can help. Certain public clouds will allow for the deployment of data centers in a pay-per-use fashion within many other countries, eliminating your need for a duplicate physical data center.
Core Competency: Let your cloud provider worry about the technical core of your business (Infrastructure as a service) this will allow you the freedom to worry about actually running your business.
(See SAVVIS’s White Paper HERE on how they can efficiently leverage the value of Big Data for you in the cloud)
And just for a little added bonus, those of you who are terrified of moving to the cloud because of security concerns :
– Enhanced Security Capability: By enabling uniform security management practices, clouds are capable of improving on certain key security practices, such as improved prediction, detection and remediation of threats, as well as the ability to provide better protection against end-user breach and corruption.
By discussing your needs with educated service providers (cough cough MetroTech cough cough) we can help you architect the perfect “cloud computing” infrastructure to meet your needs.
Cloud isn’t a “one size fits all” proposition and many companies aren’t aware of that, but we are.
Our experts can help find you the perfect solution to meet your needs and put together the best cloud to boost the success of your company.