Have you made the dive into the cloud? If not, you are missing out. What once seemed like a progressive idea is about to become standard. In the latest reports by Forbes and Reuters, cloud computing is predicted to cause a major wave in the coming decade, with brands like Amazon, Microsoft, Alphabet and Intel focusing on the transition more than ever.
Understanding the Cloud
The definition of “the cloud” isn’t always clear. However, this practical guide to cloud computing (or moving to the cloud) is paramount to lowering this uncertainty, as it provides comprehensive and practical information to ensure the right decisions are made. This set of guidelines and strategies will show you how to adopt cloud solutions for success in your business.
Why the Cloud is Critical
Cloud computing is regarded as a remedy to data storage and infrastructure management that offers a value proposition compared to conventional IT environments. First-hand virtualization and aggregate computing, or shared/segmented storage and data management, offer new economies of scale where limited time and resources are certain. Virtual instances are also typically more affordable than traditional IT environments as you can choose to only pay for the resource employed.
Definition of “the Cloud”
According to the National Institute for Science and Technology:
Cloud computing is a model for enabling universal, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released.
5 essential characteristics:
- On-demand services: Gives you the freedom to automatically select the computing capabilities, such as network storage and server time, as needed or as used.
- Resource pooling: Multiple consumers can share computing resources via a multi-channel cloud model. Different resources – physical and virtual – are deployed depending on your need.
- Broad access: All capabilities of cloud services, including computing power, is accessed through a standard protocol promoting increased flexibility. Broad network access means that resources can be accessed through mobile devices such as phones, PDAs and laptops.
- Measured Service: To make things run smoothly, a cloud system will automatically control and optimize resources. This is done by leveraging a metering capability in the user accounts, storage, processing, or bandwidth level. Transparent cloud monitoring and reporting are always good for business.
- Rapid Elasticity: Cloud resources can quickly be retrieved from almost anywhere using a computer device provided there’s an internet connection. You can decide to scale up or down and this can be done in a flash.
For most organizations, cloud computing is an extension of existing infrastructure. The model can either be dedicated or designed to focus on particular tasks or strictly new projects. Organizations may also use the cloud for overflow where enterprise computing is involved.
Cloud Service Models
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS): With SaaS, a third-party vendor, such as CenterGrid, offers you applications via a pay-per-use business model. Through a thin client interface, you can access various shared applications such as email. Cloud services also provide you with management of cloud infrastructure, including network, servers, OSs, storage, and specific application capabilities with limited client configuration.
- Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS): With PaaS, you have the capabilities to deploy applications created using language and tools supported by a third-party vendor such as CenterGrid. Like SaaS, we will manage everything, but you have control over the applications deployed, as well as the hosting environment.
- Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS): You have the capacity to process, store, and access networks, including other computing resources, where you can deploy arbitrary software. This includes OSs and other applications. Compared to the above models, IaaS allows a third-party vendor, such as CenterGrid, to manage or control your cloud infrastructure, with you controlling OSs, storage, applications, and some networking components like firewalls.
Cloud Deployment Models
- Private cloud: Popular for large companies, infrastructure in private cloud is limited to a single organization. The infrastructure can either be on-premise or externally hosted, depending on your preference.
- Public cloud: Usually operated by third-party providers, such as CenterGrid, public cloud provides infrastructure for everyone. Public cloud is mostly preferred by small and medium enterprises, as it is considered very economical.
- Hybrid cloud: As its name suggests, hybrid is a mix of on-premises, private cloud and third-party, public cloud services with orchestrated networking between the two platforms. It’s highly rated because of its flexibility and scalability compared to other models.
How Cloud Computing Is Achieving Meaningful Use
- Investment in robust computing technology remains a major challenge to cloud computing. Most businesses require fast servers and abundant storage, which is why implementing and sustaining modern infrastructure is necessary. Fortunately, disruptive technologies are more available now than ever before, providing economical and effective solutions for development and sustainability.
- Having scalable and elastic IT capabilities provided as-a-service is critical for any business. The time and money needed to establish effective computing power is high to reach peak efficiency.
- Cloud computing helps eliminate the need for local computing power, including storage and security options via third-party remote hosting. A cloud vendor primarily provides the data center and storage media necessary for running different applications. You can pay for only what is necessary since the cloud is scalable.
- Security has been and is still the biggest challenge for cloud service providers. The growth and sophistication of current technologies have made it necessary for providers to ensure robust, industry-standard security measures in place to detect and prevent data breaches.
- Cloud computing has matured and is being integrated with nearly every digital business process. Apart from providing versatile and global access to software, the cloud has been the main resource for data and software sharing. Your IT department and business decision makers should begin adopting cloud computing as the main approach to effective operations.
Cloud Predictions for 2018 Onwards – Is it the End of the Beginning?
By 2020, the cloud computing market is projected to reach $411 billion. A recent public cloud services report by Gartner predicts Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) will outpace the overall market growth by 2020. Cloud computing is now more flexible than ever before.
A few predictions for upcoming cloud-based services:
Disruption faces the Big-Dollar Snowflake Industry
The IT industry is valued as a trillion-dollar trade, as many related services remain standard in nearly every home and business operation. Client expectation and value for IT services is different. Business value and differentiation is critical for success in any enterprise. Companies are investing on relevant services that will bring the necessary value to make them stand out.
Infrastructure-as-a-Code (IaaC) is part of the revolution, where organizations deploy cloud services to offer agility, dynamic security, scalability and fast recovery. It can also be deployed via modular and hyper-converged solutions on the premises of a given company. The focus on Infrastructure-as-a-Code is rapidly growing, as companies continue to realize that mixing and matching custom hardware by a service provider is small business. The result is infrastructure that is unreliable and not as effective. Many organizations have opted to purchasing servers to improve operations and revenue. The purchase is usually based on cost, SLA, and support as long as there is no lock-in, hence a universal consistent Infrastructure-as-a-Code.
The IT services industry is prone to change, like any other industry. In any business, there are those that triumph and others who fail. To succeed, service value can be strengthened by automation, interconnecting sensors, and analytics for an overall rich client experience.
The Increasing Growth and Spread of Cloud Services
For years public cloud data centers have served businesses at greater levels in ensuring effectivity in security and operations. The cloud provides the agility and velocity required for business, and it would be wrong to set location as a limiting factor. It is impossible for traditional data analytics to move and process big data, as they must be physically close to the location. This is done to ensure decisions are made in real-time and to make sure privacy and regulatory concerns are addressed.
Speed and flexibility is every organization’s desire for a cloud solution—one that connects the digital with the physical to meet business requirements. Moving forward, cloud services will no longer be limited to hyper-scale data centers. At CenterGrid, we are giving organizations the option to operate extremely close to people, data, devices, and machines to deliver the ideal user experience.
Cloud Computing Roadmap
A cloud computing roadmap is important for any organization that desires a level of IT maturity. There are several steps to creating a reliable roadmap:
- Assemble a team – This doesn’t just mean the IT department. This team will make strategic business decisions that should improve major objectives, in addition to improving IT efficiency. A good team would include senior management, with resources drawn from all business departments. While assembling this team, consider that different skills are needed at the strategic, operational and tactical phases of cloud adoption.
- Develop an enterprise cloud strategy – This is the foundation of the project-specific adoption strategy. During its development, team members will assess each service against the cost of delivery. For example, the team will need to weigh cloud service charges vs. reduced capital costs of a new cloud service. It is at this stage that the business must decide whether to train the in-house team or pay for external services to provide necessary resources. The team must be trained on cloud computing basics. Consider the existing business environment and understand functionality and services needed.
- Select cloud deployment models – Choosing the right model depends on several factors, including the necessity of cloud services, migration costs, security threats and elasticity. By considering these factors, the team can decide which deployment model to adopt: private onsite, private off-site, or a public model. The private onsite model is for cloud consumers offering sensitive services and for those who have the ability to acquire hardware and software. For a private off-site model, the consumer can rent resources to handle mission-critical services. The public model is only ideal for services that don’t require access to sensitive information.
- Cloud service model – An organization can choose from IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS—the most common cloud service models. The choice depends on the size and IT maturity of the company. The team should assess each model for its benefits and downsides to ensure the choice suits the organization’s requirements.
- Determine who will develop, test and deploy – This isn’t usually an easy decision, but it should be based on business needs. You may choose to use your in-house team, cloud providers, off the shelf purchases or independent cloud service development providers. The trick here is ensuring that the pros outweigh the cons no matter who you choose to develop, test and deploy cloud services for your business.
- Proof of Concept – At this stage, your team needs to convince senior management or the board that the cloud is a good option with the promise of ROI. Management has to review your proposal, projected costs, risks, and benefits in order to approve.
- Integrate with existing enterprise services – The cloud isn’t a total replacement for existing services, and establishing seamless links is necessary. There must be interoperability between existing enterprise services and cloud services, which is achieved using APIs and custom code for each new cloud service. Security is a major issue at this stage, and the business must implement interface controls to ensure secure data transfer.
- Develop and manage SLAs – Expectations for service must be clear between the cloud provider, such as CenterGrid, and the organization. An SLA must clearly outline the responsibilities of each party, how to resolve issues, penalties, and an exit strategy if a party isn’t satisfied.
- Manage the cloud environment – With managed services, the customer support team handles operational challenges. However, if they are unable to resolve an issue, a problem must be escalated to the CIO, who shares responsibility for the successful operation of cloud services.
- Disaster Recovery Plan – Aside from just getting set-up in the cloud, you also need to consider a disaster recovery plan, not just backup. If there is more than one third-party provider, there must also be clearly defined vendor management processes to avoid stalling of business operations.
The promise of the cloud is seen to massively benefit the computing world. And as it continues to expand its spread and effectiveness, a constant improvement of cloud products and services is paramount. Better security, instant service, bigger storage, and best of all, better scalability is a great influence on what this year and the future holds for the cloud.
Want to learn how CenterGrid can help you get to the could? Check out Compass for more information.