1.Why you need to know about cloud
94% of businesses use at least one type of cloud computing, and it’s estimated nearly a third of IT budgets are dedicated to cloud services. It’s likely that you, your suppliers, your clients, and your competitors are all using cloud, so you need to ensure that you are using the right cloud solution for your company.
Cloud computing is a label that covers a wide variety of IT solutions, so choosing between them requires research and a complete understanding of what the different cloud platforms can provide your company. This way you can guarantee your cloud will deliver the reliability you need and hopefully the cloud will reduce your IT costs.
2.What is cloud?
Cloud computing is the process of using remote IT infrastructure for your computing needs. A cloud’s physical resources are divided into virtual machines. These virtual machines can have their capacity scaled up and down when needed, compared to a physical machine which has a fixed amount of storage space and processing capacity.
To learn more about this, read our blog What is cloud computing? With examples
While cloud services can take on a limitless number of different variations, they are grouped into three broad categories to help define the type of cloud which is best for certain scenarios. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, and which one is the best fit for you depends on your system requirements and capabilities.
These cloud categories are:
Private Cloud – Infrastructure dedicated to you and your company
Public Cloud – Infrastructure shared with other users with less control
Hybrid Cloud – A mix of public cloud with a private cloud or private infrastructure
Private Cloud is the most straightforward type of cloud since it is just a bank of resources (hardware) used exclusively by a single company, which comes with several benefits.
Private Cloud – A cloud platform where the resources are dedicated to a single business.
A private cloud can either be hosted on-premises if a business has the budget to build the infrastructure and hardware and has the in-house expertise to run. Additionally, a private cloud can be hosted in a data centre; this has the added benefit of having the power, cooling, and network infrastructure supplied by your data centre partner. The engineers at the data centre can also help with guidance and the operation of the cloud. This support is especially important if your team is doing a complete system transition.
Benefits of Private Cloud:
Control – Your business has complete control over the cloud and the applications hosted on it, making decisions around updates, backups, or anything else.
Cost-effective – A cost-effective solution at a large scale since you still don’t need to invest capital in hardware, and avoid the rising costs of a large public cloud solution.
Security – You control where and how your cloud is hosted, so the data you store on your Private Cloud is more secure than a Public Cloud provision.
Public cloud is a good option for smaller companies, or for projects that do not require intense resources. You share resources with other users when using public cloud, which is what makes it different from private cloud.
Public cloud – A cloud platform where resources are shared amongst multiple users
Using shared resources is the way public cloud remains an affordable solution for small businesses, but it does come with drawbacks. There are security issues related to other users deploying applications on the same hardware as you, and you have less control over policies around backups and updates.
Public cloud doesn’t mean hypserscalers.
If you’re thinking about public cloud you have to consider the big name hyperscale providers (e.g. AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google). But these aren’t your only options for public cloud.
There is a wide choice of smaller vendors offering public cloud services, and while they won’t be operating at the scale of these international businesses, they should have more than enough capacity to support your business with a reliable and flexible public cloud.
Benefits of a public cloud:
Inexpensive – You can lease the exact capacity you need from your provider, so it’s great for smaller businesses to launch an affordable solution.
Flexible – You can increase and decrease your public cloud provision in line with what you need. Ensuring you can keep up with sudden changes, while only paying for what you use.
Expandable – Public cloud is very easy to grow and expand alongside your company as you simply request more capacity from your supplier, and you have no need to invest into new infrastructure yourself.
4D’s Public Cloud
4D provides expertly managed cloud solutions, including Public Cloud, which comes with access to our Public Cloud portal. The 4D portal will give you control with:
- 24-hour access, to check your system and make necessary changes
- Access anywhere, so you can work from anywhere
- Immediate ticketing capabilities, with our 24-hour technical assistance there to provide support
- One-click billing information to keep on top of costs
Hybrid cloud refers to combining several different cloud platforms so that a business can take advantage of their different benefits.
The most straightforward example is having certain applications run on Public Cloud so they can be scaled up and down quickly, while secure data is kept on a private cloud so it’s not at risk.
Deploying a Hybrid Cloud is a complicated process, but we have advice on building a Hybrid Cloud, and it’s well worth it if your business has the capacity and requirement for a Hybrid Cloud. It’s a very flexible and reliable way of running your IT, and this is why we saw many companies launch Hybrid IT during the pandemic.
Hybrid IT and Hybrid Cloud are two similar and related ideas, but they are not the same and shouldn’t be confused (even if they are interchangeable in certain contexts).
The key difference between them is that Hybrid IT incorporates privately owned/managed hardware like on-premises IT or servers stored in a colocation data centre.
Hybrid IT goes one step beyond Hybrid Cloud to build an even more complicated but also more capable IT system, and your existing cloud transformation plan should be factoring in Hybrid IT
6.Cloud as part of your digital transformation
Digital transformation is central to futureproofing a business and keeping it up to date. For ever-growing and evolving businesses, it’s an ongoing process, and as such different cloud solouting will play varying roles over time.
There’s no single correct way to progress your digital transformation, so it’s not a matter of whether cloud is right or wrong for your business, but rather the best way to take advantage of cloud to support your business.
How cloud could contribute to different stages of your digital transformation:
- Getting out of the office – When it’s time to upgrade away from your on-premises IT, see if cloud could be the new home for your IT.
- Assist with real-world problems – Cloud can be a tool to revolutionise the way you run your business, creating non-IT opportunities like downsizing your office.
- Build towards something bigger – Cloud’s flexibility makes it a valuable long-term solution for some systems, but not all of them. Consider how cloud has a role to play in the future of your hybrid IT setup.
7.IaaS, PaaS and SaaS
Separate from the labels of Public and Private Cloud, cloud can also be defined by how the infrastructure and hardware of the cloud is managed. There are different levels of what is managed by providers and the businesses using the cloud: IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.
Our CEO's video presentation on What is the Cloud? which covers the different cloud platforms, including IaaS, PaaS, and Saas.
- Infrastructure as a Service – IaaS gives you lots of control since you rent infrastructure from your cloud supplier and are responsible for building the applications yourself.
- Platform as a Service –PaaS is an operating system that allows you to build a cloud from existing software programmes. Providing control without making you build programmes from scratch.
- Software as a Service – SaaS are ready to use programmes, but you will be limited to how much you can customise them to your business needs.
8.Which cloud is the right fit for your company?
Deciding between IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS
Choosing between IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS comes down to the control vs responsibility you want.
For businesses with in-house expertise and specific requirements, IaaS is the better solution. If a company needs out-of-the-box solutions, then SaaS is ideal. PaaS sits in the middle for businesses that want control but might not have the expertise or capacity to completely manage it.
9.Repatriation off the cloud
Cloud is one option for your digital transformation journey, and down the line, it might no longer be the best fit for your company’s IT. In recent years we’ve seen a lot of businesses repatriating systems off of the cloud for a variety of reasons, including:
Cost – As cloud systems grow, they become less cost-effective, especially when you begin to prioritise capacity and reliability over flexibility. At a certain size, it will become cheaper to host your IT on private hardware.
Security – Even Private Cloud requires you to host your data on a third-party’s system, so if security becomes a top priority for you, private hardware will provide the security you need.
Control – Using a cloud provider’s services will always require giving up some level of control as they take responsibility for running the system. If you require custom-built processes you will need to manage your entire system yourself.
Resources to help
Making the decision to repatriate data and systems off of the cloud is not an easy one, but it might be essential to the future of your business. We have put together several resources to help you assess whether cloud is the right platform for your IT:
- Cloud repatriation – Why you can’t stay on hyperscale cloud forever
- The true cost of cloud
- Public cloud risks and reasons not to use it
- INFOGRAPHIC: Colocation vs Cloud - 5 Key Factors for Comparing
10.Plan your seamless cloud migration
Once you’ve decided cloud is the next step in your digital transformation journey and which cloud platform you’re going to use, it’s time to plan out your migration.
Building your cloud the right way from its foundation up is essential to futureproof your IT, since it will have an impact on:
- How reliable your system is
- Whether you’ll be able to effectively expand your system
- How seamless or disruptive the migration process is
To make sure you cover everything your new cloud platform needs, use our Private Cloud Checklist as a handy guide.
We’ve helped a lot of companies plan out and deploy a new cloud system to futureproof their business with a reliable and cost-effective platform. So if you want advice on building a cloud strategy, or you’re ready to start planning the migration to the cloud, we’re here to help.
Check out 4D’s Cloud Services to compare us to other cloud providers.