Thinking about moving to Cloud-based services? This is what you need to know
Without even realising it, we use Cloud services throughout our day. Sending e-mails, listening to music, playing games and saving a photo are all likely to be activities managed in the Cloud. These services take advantage of the opportunities offered by Cloud technology – storage, analytics, networking, developer tools, and security – and there’s no reason why your business can’t leverage the same benefits.
What is Cloud computing?
Simply put, it’s the delivery of services over the internet by a third party. This third party will own facilities filled with servers, known as data centres. Customers can access a range of services through these centres. The idea of the Cloud comes from the fact that these servers are remote from the locations of their user customers.
Cloud computing has witnessed an explosion in growth and where it was once primarily used for storage and operating systems, Cloud computing now offers a much wider range of services and has become a multi-billion-pound industry.
How does the Cloud work?
Effectively, the Cloud works as a pay-as-you-use or subscription service for businesses. These can include storage, processing power, and specific applications. They are all provided from a remote location to the customer, so providers can deliver services across the globe. The vast size and interconnectivity of the data centres mean that millions of different users can be seamlessly using the services at the same time, no matter where they are, as long as they have internet access.
Different models of Cloud services
Cloud structures have a similar infrastructure, they can be managed in three different ways. Users need to understand these differences as they can influence the choice of the type of Cloud services utilised.
- Public Cloud. These are most common and are owned and operated by a third-party provider. This means Cloud service companies don’t need to own their own data centres and also don’t have to maintain them.
- Private Cloud. Cloud computing resources are used by a single organisation where services and infrastructure are maintained on a private network. It can be located on the company’s on-site data centre but they can also pay a third party to host their private Cloud. This model lets companies have more control over aspects such as security systems, hardware and balancing of workloads but they also have the responsibility of running and maintaining it.
- Hybrid Cloud. This combines public and private Cloud services and can be a good choice for businesses who want more control of particular data and store it on their private Cloud.
Types of Cloud services
Cloud-based services can also be classified into three main areas:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). The most basic model of Cloud computing services which allows users to rent out the computer power of the servers on a pay-per-use basis.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS). This is the supply of an on-demand environment for developing, building, testing, delivering and managing tool development. Working this way can simplify application development with the provision of pre-built databases and networks.
- Software as a Service (SaaS). This allows for the delivery to the user of software applications that are fully functional, usually on a subscription basis. These apps access data from the Cloud and deliver information to users anywhere with an internet connection through devices such as phones, tablets or PC. Cloud providers host and manage the application, including upgrades and security patches.
What functions can Cloud-based services be used for?
Your business can take advantage of the many benefits that the Cloud offers:
- Databases that can store vast amounts of data and users can migrate existing ones to the cloud to increase storage capacity.
- Storage of data that is easy to access and edit from multiple devices, with only an internet connection required (Dropbox, OneDrive). Storage is secure and easy to scale to needs and dependant on budget.
- Cloud back-up of onsite infrastructure can increase assurance of business resilience and disaster recovery
- Data back-up and archiving that is easy to implement and secure with encryption, offering peace of mind, knowing if live data goes down you have a backup option for as much data as needed
- Accessibility to your IT systems from anywhere and any device.
- A development environment that connects users to source code repositories and enables others to write, test and debug code stored in one centralised place.
Which Cloud service provider works best for my business?
While there are obvious benefits to Cloud services, we often get asked for advice by our customers about which provider to choose. Key factors in their choice of provider will be the nature of their business and what exactly they want from Cloud computing. For example:
- MS Azure: – Users can run any service in the cloud or combine with existing applications, data centre or infrastructure and suitable for all industries and so offers packages suitable for most needs with services such as DevOps, big data management and game and app development.
- Amazon web services: The longest established and still with the largest market share, with a large choice of services such as database and storage solutions, business productivity tools and developer tools with the wealth of experiences gained from its e-commerce platforms. Its range of services and flexibility of offerings make it a popular choice with SME and large enterprise.
- Google Cloud: A relative newcomer, but still offering a range of services such as data management and storage, productivity tools and app development. This option is particularly designed for use by cloud developers with more support and tools available on the Google cloud platform.
Is Cloud computing right for your business?
There is no doubt that Cloud computing will continue to grow and become a more powerful tool. Utilised properly, it has the potential to be a driving force for many businesses and enable them to do things that may not be possible otherwise. However, if you are thinking of implementing Cloud services you need an informed plan and strategy before taking that first step.
I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post how digital innovation drives businesses and without Cloud computing, many businesses simply would not be able to afford the technologies needed. Incepteo offers our clients unbiased, technical know-how to identify cost-effective Cloud-based solutions to deliver what they need, and the possible impact on business results.
Getting to grips with the full potential of Cloud services for your business can be challenging but it can deliver huge advantages if applied in the right way and in the right areas with a trusted technology partner.