One of the most popular tech buzzwords of the last decade is “the cloud.” Everyone wants it, but what is it? And why should you care? Simply put, it means moving servers (and the applications that run on them) off-premise. More than that, cloud computing represents a fundamental shift in IT strategy. Instead of going through a procurement process to buy new hardware every time you need to make a change, moving the workload to a cloud service instead can make more sense from both a time and management perspective. One of the most important things we have is time, so why waste it on low-value procurement conversations? Cloud offerings come in one of three main flavours; Public Cloud, Private Cloud, and Hybrid Cloud.
Public clouds are provided by an outside organization and typically offer many different hosting services. There are two major benefits to using a public cloud service:
- The reduced time it takes to deploy IT resources on an as-needed basis
- The ability to pay only for the resources you use
Most organizations will partner with a trusted Managed Services Provider to ensure they build a solution that meets their needs and is scalable. There is nothing worse than spending time and money implementing a solution and then having to change it six months down the road.
One of the most recognized names in the public cloud space is Microsoft. Best associated with its hosted Office 365 email and SharePoint services, they also provide everything from the Office suite application to full-blown server farms (as part of their Azure service). While it makes complete sense for almost everyone to use Office 365 for email and software licensing, the public cloud doesn’t always make sense for your other workloads. You may have industry or government regulatory restrictions on where your data lives, or you simply want to know exactly where your intellectual property is at all times. Perhaps you need high performance for your environment that does not need to change all the time. If this is the case, it is best to ask your Managed Services Provider about private cloud opportunities.
Private clouds are similar to a traditional client-server model. If you have servers sitting in your office, you are usually responsible for all the associated aspects: from strategy, design, and procurement through to the configuration, and maintenance. As well, you’re providing power, cooling, disaster recovery, communications, and so on and so forth. Hopefully, you have the expertise or have partnered with a Managed Services Provider that can help plan this out. However, if your IT strategy allows for moving workloads to the cloud, there are opportunities to partner with a hosting company that can provide all the infrastructure, premises, power, cooling, and so on with a dedicated, private link between that provider and your office. If your Managed Service Provider has developed their strategy appropriately, they might be able to provide you with your private cloud and eliminate the procurement strategy.
There are some drivers behind the decision to use private cloud services instead of public, including:
- A pre-existing investment in infrastructure
- Legacy applications still used in day-to-day operations
- Data sovereignty (common in law and healthcare industries)
- Regulatory compliance
- You have a conservative risk profile and want to keep all data and systems under your control
While this type of environment is considered private cloud, it is derived from that traditional on-premise model that has decades of maturity behind it.
What if you need some aspects of both private and public cloud offerings? The third and most common, type of cloud environment known as the hybrid cloud might be the best strategy for you.
Many scenarios make sense for working in a hybrid cloud strategy:
- You require high-performance access to your data with a local server on-premise, and email needs to be available at all times, best achieved in a hosted public or private cloud
- Your servers or data replicate from on-premise infrastructure to private or public cloud for disaster recovery and business continuity plans
- Data is confined to on-premise or local private cloud due to regulatory compliance, but certain web-based applications are permitted
Other drivers for a hybrid cloud include an existing un-realized investment in on-premise infrastructure, industry regulations prohibiting the use of a public cloud, or the use of legacy applications that do not work in a cloud environment.
What’s Right for You?
These days, there is always a compelling reason to take advantage of at least one form of cloud service, public or private, and migration paths have become less painful when working with an experienced managed services company. If you still run your entire server infrastructure inside your own four walls – ask yourself why. The cloud might hold a better answer. Interested in keeping it secure? learn more about cloud security.
Learn more about F12 Cloud and how we can help you and your business navigate through the clouds without hitting a mountainside.