Cloud-computing is, put simply, the distributed delivery of IT infrastructure over a network. This can be basically anything. Storage services, in particular, are currently in vogue, where a computing center often offers storage over the web. You can use this storage on your PC at home just like a conventional local hard drive even though it is really located hundreds or even thousands of miles away. As you, the user, never know exactly which server your data is on, we speak of a data cloud where everything is stored.
Complete programs and services are also offered via the cloud. Just like conventional client/server architecture, spreadsheet software for example is run on an external computer, which is a server. You are provided with an interface on your own PC via the Internet, which allows you to use the software. This is very convenient as it requires no software to be installed, and computationally intensive operations are also outsourced.
Cloud computing has become popular in the business world—and for good reason. Thanks to cloud computing, you can:
Add technology resources to your business without large capital investments
Effortlessly scale your operations as your business grows
Eliminate the need to maintain and manage some areas of your IT environment
Give employees easy access to the data and applications they need to do their jobs
To take advantage of cloud computing, you need to know your options: what you can put in the cloud, the types of clouds that you can use, and what kind of security you will need.
Today, most components of an IT environment can be provided as a cloud service. You can put software, hardware, and essential operations in the cloud.
Software in the Cloud
Using cloud-based software is one of the most common ways businesses take advantage of cloud computing. There is a wide variety of hosted applications available from providers, ranging from office productivity suites to customer relationship management software. You also have the option of putting software you already own in a cloud. For example, you might have proprietary software that you want to deliver to employees in different offices. Our team can help you evaluate which applications would be better off in the cloud to increase your productivity.
Hardware in the Cloud
If your servers, storage devices, and networking equipment are inadequate because your business is growing, you might benefit from putting your IT infrastructure in the cloud. It is not an all-or-nothing proposition, though. You can put individual components in the cloud. For instance, instead of buying a file server, you can use a cloud storage service that lets employees store and share their files.
Essential Operations in the Cloud
Crucial IT operations can be put in the cloud. Rather than dealing with the hassle of backing up all your data, you could have a provider perform your data backups and then store a copy of the backup files at its facility.
Deciding what to put in the cloud is not an easy task because of all the possibilities. Our team will walk you through your options and help you determine the best way you can take advantage of cloud computing.
Besides deciding what to put in the cloud, you need to choose the type of cloud to use. There are three main types of clouds: public, private, and hybrid.
When people think of cloud computing, they often think of offerings such as Microsoft Office 365, Dropbox, and Google Drive. These are public clouds. A public cloud provider uses the same hardware (e.g., servers, storage devices, networking equipment) to deliver its cloud services to all its customers. So, for instance, if you subscribe to Google Drive, your files are on the same hardware as the other subscribers’ files.
The hardware used to deliver the cloud service is always at the provider’s facility. The provider is responsible for managing the IT resource being offered (e.g., software, backup service) as well as maintaining the hardware used to deliver it.
Using a public cloud offers several benefits. For starters, you can add IT resources without having to make large capital investments. Another advantage is that you can quickly change the amount of resources you are using, letting you efficiently operate your business. Finally, you do not need to manage the IT resource you are getting through the provider.
A private cloud is used exclusively by a single company that has multiple business units. Those business units use the services being provided by the private cloud, much like multiple companies use the services being delivered by a public cloud.
You can choose to own a private cloud or lease one from a provider. Even when leased, you use dedicated hardware—you are not sharing it with any other organization. This hardware may be located onsite (e.g., at your company’s headquarters) or offsite (e.g., at the provider’s facility). The party responsible for managing the private cloud depends on various factors, such as whether the cloud is leased and where it is located. It could be you, the provider, or both you and the provider.
The main advantage of using a private cloud is tighter security, which is important if you must comply with government regulations. Because you do not share the hardware with other organizations, you do not have to worry about your resources being vulnerable if another company’s resources become infected with malware or get hacked. In addition, you control internal and external access to your private cloud.
Some people mistakenly believe that having a hybrid cloud means that you keep all your IT operations in-house, except for connecting one server to a public cloud. A hybrid cloud actually refers to an IT environment that uses both private and public clouds. The clouds operate independently, but they communicate with each other. Sometimes, technologies are used to achieve data and application portability between them.
The main benefit of using a hybrid cloud is that it is highly customizable. For example, you can use a private cloud for the IT resources that need tighter security, while using a public cloud for those resources you want to be scalable.
None of the cloud types are inherently better than the others. The different types of clouds simply meet different needs. Our team can recommend the type of cloud that is best for your company, given your current business requirements and what you envision them to be in the future.
Security is one of the most overlooked parts of cloud computing. Using consumer-grade options might be adequate for personal use. However, your business requires tighter security and more control over file access.
Your clients may be subject to government regulations, which could require you to maintain specific levels of encryption and security with all of the client data you manage. You may want to restrict access of your company’s financial data to your senior management. You may also want to keep a log of who accessed each file and when, or maintain an archive of emails from deleted accounts of past employees. All of this is possible.
Our team will decipher the numerous options available to you and make appropriate recommendations that align with your business goals and security needs.
Because of the popularity of cloud computing, you now have many choices concerning what to put in the cloud and the type of cloud to use. While having choices is good, it can make the decision process more challenging.
We can help if you are facing this challenge. Our team will take the time to learn about your business, including your current software, hardware, operations and security requirements. We will also talk with you about the direction your company is heading and what IT resources you need to get there. Using this information, we can help you select the best cloud computing solution to use.
No matter whether you decide to put one application or your entire IT infrastructure in the cloud, our team will help you implement that solution, making sure that it seamlessly integrates into your IT environment.
Contact us today for a complimentary consultation so that you can start reaping all the benefits that cloud computing has to offer.