Cloud computing is where all information technology (IT) services, from servers to data centres are delivered via the internet. Just about every software application is now available as a ‘software as service’ application via the cloud on a pay-as-you-go model. As the cloud gains in popularity, more applications, options and configurations are emerging from cloud vendors to suit the wide variety of business models.
The correct cloud computing setup offers a flexible, cost-effective and proficient way to store, manage and process data. More organisations now use cloud computing than not, as the long-term savings and efficiency have become apparent.
The evolution of the cloud is great news for businesses, but can be a minefield to understand, choose services and implement. Dealing with an experienced cloud specialist is recommended to save time, money and the stress of navigating different vendors, set-ups, applications and infrastructures.
The Three Cloud Computing Models
Your business size, type and the sensitive nature of your data will impact the type of cloud model that best suits your requirements.
- Public Cloud is where a service provider uses the internet to run all resources, applications and storage for use by the public. Public cloud can be easier to maintain and is inexpensive to set up and run, as all costs are covered by the provider. At present, this model tends to be used by smaller organisations that only require a basic level of infrastructure and security.
- Private Cloud differs from public because it involves a distinct and secure cloud-based environment that can only be accessed by a single organisation or client. The benefit of this is greater control, security and privacy. The down side is that it comes at a higher cost that may not be within a smaller organisation’s budget.
- Hybrid Cloud is a mixture of public and private cloud computing. This can work for companies already using private cloud. During their peak seasons, they utilise the public cloud for ‘bursting’. Bursting is where a company uses the public cloud for a period where they have a short-term increase in production or sales.
Cloud Computing Trends
Private cloud computing is the most popular option for businesses, however there is a definite move towards public cloud. Experts believe that in time public will become the preferred option. Public cloud offers better technology and is more cost efficient as it doesn’t have the overheads associated with running private cloud facilities and infrastructure.
Security has been one of the main issues surrounding public cloud, but it has come a long way in the last couple of years. Public cloud now attracts the best security experts and is a secure option for data storage in most cases. Most security issues are now due to the user not fulfilling their responsibility in monitoring and controlling their data. Therefore many businesses look at outsourcing their cloud management to third-party cloud specialists.
Hybrid cloud offers better control over the public and private components as opposed to a pre-packaged cloud platform. It can be an alternative for businesses requiring a mix of both or who want to transition from private to public.
Cloud Computing Vendor Options
The cloud computing market is dominated by three vendors – AWS (Amazon Web Services), Azure (Microsoft) and Google.
AWS was the first to market, 11 years ago, and has topped the list ever since. This is mostly because they offer the widest selection of feature-rich and flexible services. With 50% of the market share and over 5 x the computing capacity of the top 14 vendors combined, there’s a lot of room for customisation with the support of many third-party integrations.
Many experts believe that Azure is closing the gap on AWS in terms of its services, and most believe it is more user friendly, especially for Windows users.
Google Cloud has earned the confidence of some big-name clients such as Spotify, HSBC and Coca Cola, because in most cases it offers a secure, flexible and scalable complement of services at a reasonable price.
There are plenty of alternative vendors who have much to offer, so it is worthwhile investigating beyond the top three vendors. Each service provider has advantages and disadvantages which need to be considered.
A cloud computing trend that is gaining in popularity is the multi-cloud approach. This allows businesses to choose specific cloud services for different aspects of their company. This is a complicated set up and should be implemented through a cloud computing expert.
Choosing the right cloud computing model is not for the IT faint-hearted. It can be a steep learning curve to configure and implement. Even the billing is notoriously difficult to understand, so it is recommended to go through a ‘reseller’ who can decipher for you.
Don’t be intimidated by all the cloud computing models and variations. With the right advice from a cloud expert you can find the best fit for your business and reap the many benefits of the cloud. Outsourcing cloud management can ensure it runs efficiently and will alleviate any cost blow outs so you will save money in the long run.