The Cloud seems to be this gigantic nebulous object somewhere out there in cyberspace. The abundance of differing names for “The Cloud” and cloud services providers makes it difficult to analyze and understand. Before selecting a cloud provider to design, build, and implement your cloud infrastructure, it is import to understand cloud computing. Therefore, this brief document defines the Cloud and explains the benefits.
What is the Cloud?
According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Information Technology Laboratory, cloud computing is defined as: “…a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, 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. This cloud model is composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models.” In addition, the NSIT provided the following cloud characteristics and models:
- On-demand self-service
- Broad network access
- Resource pooling
- Rapid elasticity
- Measured service
There are three cloud computing service models:
- Software as a Service (SaaS): The SaaS model supports applications in the cloud. Examples of SaaS models are Salesforce, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Netflix, Microsoft Office 365, Google Applications, etc.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS): The PaaS model consists of operating systems (i.e., database) built to operate in the cloud.
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): The IaaS model is an environment (including operating system, database software, and applications) in the cloud. Examples of IaaS are Amazon (EC2), Skytap – Virtual Lab, Salesforce – Appexchange, etc.
- Private cloud
- Community cloud
- Public cloud
- Hybrid cloud
Benefits of the Cloud
There are several benefits obtained by migrating to the Cloud, but it is not for everyone. It is important to consult with an expert to determine if the Cloud is appropriate for your business. According to the article, 5 Cloud Business Benefits, by WIRED the benefits of the cloud are: “(1) business agility, (2) new business models, (3) less operational issues, (4) less use of resources, and (5) less capital expense.”2 From a technical perspective there are four key benefits of migrating to the Cloud. Even though the article was published in 2012 these benefits are still relevant today.
Reduction in Capital Expenditures
The old technology model was based on businesses maintaining hardware on-site with the lifecycle of 3-5 years. Therefore, businesses had to budget for capital expenditures. The new PaaS model includes hardware and software at a fixed price which is easier for budgeting.
Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery
One of the biggest benefits of the Cloud is business continuity/disaster recovery (BC/DR). In order for your business to be successful, clients must have access on-demand to your products and services. BC/DR ensures that your business is prepared for disaster before it strikes. Disasters include, but are not limited to: hardware failure, software corruption, virus/hacker attacks, Internet connectivity outages, natural disasters (i.e. flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, etc.), no access to your office building (crime scene, pest infestation, fire, etc.), theft of physical devices (server, workstations, laptops, etc.) or data, or human error (erasing data accidentally or intentionally). Properly configured cloud services providers are already setup for BC/DR.
Accessibility and Economies of Scale
The Cloud provides access from your computer, smartphone, or tablet from anywhere in the world, as long as there is an Internet connection. The addition of bandwidth and storage is easier in the Cloud because of virtualization technologies. Company email, data, and applications are available from anywhere. This also facilitates telecommuting and almost eliminates snow days.
It is important to understand the configurations of the cloud services provider selected. The Cloud resides in a data center. The data center should possess physical and virtual security measures. In addition to security, compliance with HIPPA, SSAE 16, and Sarbanes-Oxley are also important.
There are many benefits to the Cloud. There are technical, project management, and project implementation aspects to consider. It is important to consult with an expert prior to beginning this type of project. The cloud services provider should analyze your infrastructure and customize a solution to meet your specific business needs.
Learn how we can customize the right cloud solution for your business by contacting us:
Phone: 770.396.6000 option 1