Demystifying the Cloud
It seems no matter where you turn, you can’t escape the buzzword of “the Cloud.” Whether it’s a place to put phone data, the newest version of software, or just the ever-present promise of “It’s better because it’s now in the Cloud!”, it seems like everyone is poised to take advantage of the progressive, somewhat nebulous, Cloud.
But what is the Cloud, really? Depending on your daily interaction, it may be as simple as pressing a button to sync, hoping that your data is going to be saved somewhere. For others, the value of the Cloud may be in finally taking some aspect of technology off your organization’s plate and letting someone or something else manage it. No matter how you use it, the biggest mythbuster when it comes to the Cloud is that no matter what you’re committing—data, labor, equipment—it’s not evaporating up into the big Internet ether; it’s being moved to a tangible, physical place and being managed by experts whose entire job is the management of this outsourced item or service.
How is the Cloud useful?
Let’s think about an average company that sells a product to the public. In that office, there may be C-level leadership, teams in Research and Development, Marketing and Advertising, Finance, Human Resources, Logistics and Sales, just to start. Supporting all of these departments is the IT team. Depending on the size of the team and budget allocated to IT, at least one person on that team needs to be able to support the team from a helpdesk perspective, manage and continually update each user’s desktop and phones, maintain office equipment (printer/fax machine, conference room equipment) and manage all of the infrastructure behind all this. The goal of technology is to make everyone’s lives easier, get work done faster and connect us more than ever before. With managing all this equipment and updates manually in-house, it can increase the odds of things failing. It can also steal valuable time from all departments when employees are working with inefficient systems or having to constantly approve new equipment—missing the point entirely of what technology is supposed to accomplish.
What are the advantages of utilizing cloud technology?
One of the biggest allures of moving to the Cloud is eliminating some of the inherent risks of operating on-premise by moving your valuable data and/or equipment to a secure facility off-site. If you had the choice to keep all of your money in a shoe box under your bed or in a bank that had top-of-the line security and disaster prevention, wouldn’t you prefer to open an account at your local branch (and possibly get some additional perks to boot)?
Utilizing a Cloud provider offers security, both physically and through peace of mind. The data center facilities utilized or owned by a Cloud provider offer the type of security and disaster recovery that is largely unavailable at an individual office. Biometric scanning, 24/7/365 security personnel, robust HVAC systems, reliable power backups, architectural precautions and stability, and on-site technicians allow companies to breathe a deep sigh of relief and avoid risks associated with a disgruntled employee gone rogue, building power failures, or disasters such as flood or fire that can bring operations to a standstill.
Public vs. Hybrid vs. Private Cloud
While Cloud providers are going to be taking advantage of the data center facilities mentioned above, not all Cloud is created equal. There are different options to choose from when it comes to what’s best for you personally and for your company. In addition to Public, multi-layered Cloud, there is also Hybrid and Private Cloud.
When a company is using Public cloud, they could be taking advantage of the ability to spin up instances for testing and development, storing long-term data off-site or hosting their traditionally on-premise applications such as email in the Cloud via a monthly recurring fee based on the amount of CPU capacity, memory and storage being used. For many organizations, this equates to a streamlined monthly bill which has the benefit of being deemed an operational expense versus capital expense. However, with hyperscaling does come the challenge of managing spend once firmly entrenched into the environment—it’s a lot easier getting in than getting out.
Hybrid can feature multiple combinations—a Cloud strategy that mixes aspects of traditional on-premise equipment with Private or Public clouds or an approach that incorporates elements of Public Cloud with Private.
Private Cloud is just what it sounds like—a Private Cloud partner will be engaged to design an environment specifically for your organization’s needs while maintaining the elasticity many desire with a Public Cloud solution. These environments are typically vendor, technologically, and network neutral. Additionally, given that you are working closely with the architects designing your solution, there is typically a more granular level of support, monitoring/visibility and security involved. Therefore, it can sometimes be easier to manage spend and work with your partner to maintain the proper level needed – and without unnecessary bloat. This level of specification does come with a price; especially at the onset the upfront fees included can seem sizable in comparison to getting up and running with a public cloud provider, but this broaches the age-old conversation of price vs. cost.
There you have it, a small glance under the hood of that big, exciting, buzzword of “the Cloud.” Of course, when it comes to this topic, there are many layers of solutions available and different providers putting their twist on it. The important thing is to dive in and consider all the possible options for the right fit for you and your organization; there’s bound to be the right fit for you out there.