Shopping for IT services can become a convoluted process. Like many decisions makers in the IT world, you’ve likely come across cloud based services. After reviewing some of these services, you might be left wondering, “What exactly is the cloud and how can it help my business?
Cloud is simply an abstract way of distributing computing resources to an enterprise on demand. Pretty much anything can be distributed using the cloud, including CPU resources, storage space or even robust application suites.
The idea behind the cloud is that your business will not have to rely on infrastructure built onsite. This guarantees that your business will only pay for the IT services it utilizes, while simultaneously being able to rapidly scale up or scale down infrastructure on an as-needed basis.
With cloud, organizations only pay for what they use. With this in mind, cloud has provided small to medium sized businesses with the flexibility to extend their infrastructure in a manner that best fits their business needs.
Cloud services are broadly grouped in 3 main categories: IaaS, SaaS and PaaS. These acronyms can be defined as:
Many businesses will seek out SaaS solutions as their first endeavor into cloud.
A popular example of SaaS is Microsoft Office 365. Organizations that use Office 365 can open up a web browser and access their organization’s data from anywhere, providing users with the ability to collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, presentations and more. Since Office 365 is available from any web browser, users can be empowered to work from anywhere on any device that has an internet connection.
Organizations that use PaaS typically have a developer on staff that writes apps that are hosted on cloud based platforms.
Organizations will typically use PaaS suites such as IBM’s BlueMix, Microsoft’s Visual Studio or SalesForce to create custom cloud based applications. The best part about PaaS is that developers can rapidly build and deploy apps, taking much of the guesswork out of application development and deployment.
IaaS is a more granular form of cloud in that businesses can abstractly purchase computing power in the form of virtual machines.
These VMs operate in the same fashion as a Microsoft Hyper-V or a VMware ESXi deployment in that the resources can be spun up, on demand, in a data center of your choosing. This gives organizations the flexibility that they need in order to extend their infrastructure.
Best of all, IaaS can be billed on an up-to-the-minute scale, ensuring that your business never overpays for IT services again.
Businesses become more profitable when they streamline their operations. With cloud, organizations large and small can buy exactly the amount of IT services that they need.
Cloud can be used to deploy anything that you currently deploy within your onsite datacenter. This includes VoIP, storage services, line of business apps and more.
There are several motivations for adopting cloud based services. Lets say that your IT staff is tasked with deploying a new server for a testing project, but they don’t have the space or IT budget needed to sustain a multi-thousand dollar investment for a new server.
In this instance, your business could get away with deploying a server in the cloud using an IaaS provider. Your business could build out a virtual machine just as if they had a hypervisor on site.
IaaS providers let you specify how much RAM, CPU and hard drive space that you would like to allocate to a specific virtual machine. When traditional infrastructure deployments could takes days or weeks, businesses that use IaaS can achieve results in minutes.
Some organizations are hesitant to use cloud based services because they simply cannot trust their data being in the hands of another organization. Although many cloud based services offer data redundancy, data security and industry recognized physical security certification, what happens when that cloud provider sustains a system wide outage?
More specifically, what happens when that outage directly impacts your organization’s productivity?
When your business ventures into cloud based services, it is effectively putting its most important processes in the hands of another provider.
Popular cloud services such as AWS, Google Cloud Platform and others have suffered noticeable outages over the years, which could make some organizations shy away from using the new infrastructure deployment methodology.
Cloud can be delivered in many different shapes and forms. Businesses may elect to build a private cloud, which is a cloud based ecosystem that resides within the walls of the corporate datacenter.
Public cloud services can be used to deploy services outside of your facilities and hybrid clouds can be established to facilitate connections between data repositories onsite and in the cloud.
To determine if cloud is right for your business, you must sit down and crunch the numbers. Your current situation may warrant a move to the cloud, while organizations that own a vast amount of infrastructure may elect to build a cloud onsite.
Without a doubt, cloud is the next big thing in enterprise computing. If your business needs the ability to rapidly deploy infrastructure or the ability to work from anywhere, using public, private or hybrid cloud services may prove to be a profitable transformation for the IT systems that shape your business.
If you’re interested in cloud services or simply want more information before you make the switch, give BACS a call! We’d be happy to speak with you about your organization and walk you through the differences between cloud and managed IT services, how they can work in tandem, and what options are right for you. Reach us by phone at (650) 887-4601 or contact us online at any time.