What is the cloud? Essentially, it’s data centers. Racks and racks of powerful servers are tucked away in secure buildings and run every application you can think of.
Cloud Computing (Data Center Computing)
At a basic level, cloud computing is the ability to connect to computers that run in a data center. So really, “cloud computing” has been around for decades. But it’s becoming increasingly popular as the internet gets faster, cheaper, and more secure. As a matter of fact, much of the “computing” you do today is cloud computing—but you don’t even realize it. Whenever you click that pretty app icon on your phone, you’re connecting to an application running in a data center.
What does this mean for my IT?
There are three types of cloud computing for businesses: Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service, and Software-as-a-Service. Each of these lie on a continuum, where your business can choose to exercise more or less control over a cloud IT environment. So dig deep and evaluate whether you’d like to take a more hands-on approach, or shift toward more freedom and flexibility.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service offers the building blocks of CPU, RAM, Storage and Networking. Typically, this starts with visibility and control at the hardware level, then continues up through the hypervisor, operating system, and applications. It’s a similar feel to legacy onsite deployment, without actually being onsite.
Platform-as-a-Service take Infrastructure as a Service and add in the Hypervisor and Operating System so now the cloud provider is managing everything from the power and hardware right on up through the operating system, and stopping just before the applications, which the customer would manage themself.
Software-as-a-Service seeks to deliver an application in its entirety, fully managed and running in a data center. In this model the customer has no management responsibilities, they simply enjoy the use of the application.
You’re likely starting to understand the benefits of cloud for a business. But let’s look at the main reasons to choose cloud:
The cloud offers advantages like efficient spending and budgeting for IT since up-front investments are much lower than any legacy IT architecture. Now, is cloud a cheaper model? That answer depends on a number of factors. Cloud allows a business to trade big capital expenses for lower operating expenses. And those operating costs are tapped into huge economies of scale, so a business typically sees a lower cost compared to a similar solution in a legacy model, especially with soft costs like internal management.
In legacy IT deployments, significant time and resources are spent on procuring and managing hardware and software. In a cloud model, such problems are eliminated so businesses can keep their IT staff focused on things that matter more.
Financial efficiency also speaks to agility. Are you introducing a new application? Scale your environment up. Getting rid of a legacy application? Scale your environment down. Onboarding new employees? Add more workspaces. Have temporary workers? Use temporary spaces. By using the cloud, you deliver unprecedented agility to your IT department and empower employees to access what they need, when they need it.