Tapping into modern cloud technologies has become a critical enabler of business growth in every organization from one-person operations to massive global enterprises. The problem is that most people still don’t really understand what the cloud is and why it matters. In a nutshell, cloud computing refers to any computing workload that’s handled in a remote data center, with the end-user experience delivered to the device in front of you, typically through a browser.
The cloud computing market is more crowded than ever, although it’s still dominated by three major providers: Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. Together, these companies provide most of the cloud services companies and individuals depend on today. But simply doing the same thing everyone else is doing isn’t likely to yield a high return on investment. Instead, you need to determine your business needs and match your cloud solutions to them.
Digital transformation depends on a company’s ability to align business goals with technology solutions. That might sound obvious, but alignment is where most companies fall short. To avoid this, you need to explore all the cloud options available to you and how they fit your business.
The public cloud: Low cost, but lacking in flexibility
The vast majority of cloud computing operations take place in the public cloud, in data centers operated by brands like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure. With the public cloud, hardware resources are shared among multiple businesses and individuals, but the end-user experience is much the same, thanks to the logical separation of resources using virtualization technology.
For example, anyone can open a virtual machine instance on Amazon Web Services, which gives them access to a powerful, customized computer through a web browser. This effectively allows them to turn a basic netbook or even a smartphone into a powerful server machine with as much processing power and memory as they need. Furthermore, everything is managed by the service provider, so there’s no need to upgrade or replace hardware.
While the public cloud offers practically unlimited computing resources (Amazon isn’t likely to run out of storage space and compute power to see to your business’s needs!), it does have its drawbacks. Issues with security and compliance are among the biggest concerns, which is especially the case with highly regulated industries like healthcare and finance. However, most issues can be resolved by enforcing encryption and multifactor authentication.
The private cloud: High costs, maximum flexibility
Private cloud services are specific to an organization, with no resources being shared among other users. However, some private clouds may be shared between affiliated companies and their business partners. For the most part, the end-user experience is the same, since virtual computers are used to build a similar range of services to those found in the public cloud. The private cloud offers maximum security since it’s cut off from public services.
Public clouds may be hosted in in-house data centers or managed in a remote venue such as a server colocation facility. With either option, resources may be accessed online through a browser or other client-side software to provide the same level of mobility and accessibility as the public cloud. However, because they reside logically inside an organization’s network of physical hardware resources, private cloud deployments may be less scalable than public cloud options.
Hardware components, such as data center servers and storage area networks, need to be provided by the organization itself, although it’s also possible to rent these assets by partnering with a managed services provider (MSP). Unsurprisingly, this can get quite expensive but, in the end, you have a secure computing environment that your administrators have complete control over.
The hybrid cloud: The best of both worlds
Hybrid cloud deployments combine both public and private services to bring your business the best of both worlds. For example, you might tap into the public cloud for raw compute power and application hosting, but keep your sensitive business data in a private cloud. This presents an especially attractive opportunity to highly regulated industries as well. On the other hand, infrastructure complexity can be a lot higher, hence the need for a dedicated IT department. Fortunately, like most things technology-related, hybrid cloud deployment and maintenance can also be outsourced to an MSP.
Xact IT Solutions offers proactive IT support and robust cloud solutions to businesses in Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Delaware. Call us today to schedule a free consultation and find out which cloud model suits your business.