Have you ever used a cloud computing service?
Cloud computing is a delivery model for services via the internet or cloud. It offers resources such as servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence as services over the internet.
Believe it or not, you’ve probably used some form of cloud computing service. You probably rely on cloud services on a weekly, if not daily, basis. If you’ve ever sent an email from a wireless device or streamed music from your phone, then you can answer yes.
Two of the most common responses we hear from businesses regarding switching to the cloud are
- Cloud Computing is just for big businesses; it’s too early for us
- We have to go all in with the Cloud, and we don’t want that
These are misconceptions about the Cloud that we can clear up. Cloud computing is for businesses of any size, and it does not require a business to go “all in.” This is far from true. Cloud Services are scalable to any business size, making it an easy resource to adjust as your business grows or downsizes. With the cloud, you only pay for the services you need, making it a cost-effective and flexible IT solution for any business.
Cloud Computing Uses
Like we already established, you’ve probably used some form of cloud computing whether it be sending an email or streaming a movie. There are hundreds of cloud computing uses, but let’s look at four common ones:
Audio & Video Streaming
Let’s start with something we all know and use: streaming. Streaming services can deliver their music and videos to you through cloud computing, and all you need is internet access.
Data Backup & Recovery
With cloud computing, your data is stored at an off-site cloud storage system. As long as you have internet connection, you can access your data. This makes data backup and recovery in the event of a disaster easier and cost-effective.
When your data in the cloud can be accessed from anywhere, collaboration to analyze data is simpler. Your can easily share data between different teams, departments, and even locations. There are even cloud services with artificial intelligence capabilities that can help you in the analysis process.
With the cloud, you can quickly develop and deploy cloud-based applications. Cloud computing services offer a low-cost solution to test and build scalable applications in cloud infrastructure.
With the cloud, you can move your network solutions online. Cloud networking is a mode for managing and connecting network resources via the internet, and includes resources such as VPNs, firewalls, and load balancers. This can ensure your business maintains a well-connected network that workers can access on premises or remotely.
Types of Cloud Deployment
There are a variety of different clouds, and it is up to you to determine what is the best option for your company’s needs. The first step is determining how you want to deploy your cloud computing architecture.
You can access public clouds over the internet, and they are owned and operated by a third party who manages any associated hardware, software, and infrastructure. Public cloud computing resources can be accessed by most anyone with a web browser, all you need to do is create an account. Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform are both examples of public cloud platforms. When it comes to Microsoft Azure, Microsoft owns and manages all cloud infrastructure while users have easy access to the platform from any device.
A private cloud is used by a specific business or organization. The private cloud computing services are typically hosted on a private network. When it comes to a private cloud’s physical location, there are two options. A company can house its private cloud infrastructure on-premises or pay a third-party provider to house the private cloud. Some businesses will even employ a Cloud Services Provider to build their private cloud.
As you can probably guess, a hybrid cloud combines public and private cloud services. With a hybrid cloud, you can share data and applications between the two cloud environments. This sharing allows for increased flexibility, deployment options, and optimization of infrastructure and security.
Types of Cloud Services
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
Infrastructure can include servers, software, and operating systems. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is just the delivery of these infrastructure units over the internet or cloud. IaaS is an on-demand service that saves users from purchasing software or servers, but rather they receive these from an external provider. IaaS is one of the most common uses of Microsoft Azure for many businesses getting started in the cloud.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a cloud computing service that is used to create software to be distributed over the internet, as opposed to IaaS which is used to deliver existing software. PaaS is primarily for software developers as it allows for the development and testing as well as delivery and management of web-based software applications without needing to purchase infrastructure such as servers, network, databases, and other resources needed in the development process. This cloud computing service aims to make the development of web-based and mobile apps easy and efficient.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
Software as a Service (SaaS) is exactly what it sounds like; software and licenses are provided via the internet in an on-demand, subscription-style service. With this cloud service type, a cloud provider owns and manages all necessary infrastructure, so you don’t have to. Your cloud provider will also undertake any needed maintenance, upgrades, and security patching to make sure the software you are paying for is optimally working.
Identity as a Service (IDaaS)
Cloud-based Identity and Access Management—or Identity as a Service—is meant to ensure the right people within and outside of your organization can access the right resources associated with their jobs. This form of management service first authenticates user credentials to make sure the user is who they say they are, and then the IDaaS system grants the pre-determined level of access to the user. IDaaS serves as an additional security to protect your business. Tools associated with Identity and Access Management include multi-factor authentication and single sign-on. Identity and Access Management is a key service for businesses looking to migrate to cloud solutions in order to monitor and manage user access to data and applications.
Benefits of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing transitions the capital expense of hardware, software, and other infrastructure needs to an operational expense paid to a cloud provider. A cloud provider who undertakes the brunt of day-to-day maintenance tasks replaces the expenses associated with owning and maintaining on-site datacenters and and IT department to manage these centers. The subscription-style service makes it easy for businesses to scale their services, so you only pay for what you need.
As we established earlier, cloud computing services are not all or nothing. In fact, there are a lot of grey areas with the cloud. You choose the services that your business needs to operate, so you are not paying for unused services. Businesses can easily expand or downsize their cloud environment to match their business needs.
When you work with a cloud provider to manage your cloud computing services, you are committing to a high performing cloud environment. A cloud services provider will take up regular patching and upgrades to make sure your cloud environment is running optimally. These upgrades also save time because providers deliver software and other products via the internet, rather than a physical method. This also takes tasks off the plate of your internal IT team, so they can focus on larger IT initiatives.
Because cloud computing services are mostly offered as an on-demand service over the internet, many of the services can be performed in minutes. Similarly, it only takes a few clicks to install web-based products and applications. Rather than waiting on a physical flash drive or disk, individual users can receive needed services online.
While a public cloud may seem like a security risk, that is far from true. Public clouds have security measures in place to ensure your information is your information; it is not open to the public eye. Additionally, cloud services providers have established policies and controls to keep your data and infrastructure secure.
Getting Started with the Cloud
Let’s look back at our initial question: have you ever used a cloud computing service? In 2019, PEI released our State of IT Report identifying IT trends across varying industries to better understand the changing IT landscape.
Survey results indicated 66% of businesses had plans for moving to the cloud, while in 2018, only 44% had a plan. This change indicates the growing ease and accessibility to adopt cloud environments. The same survey revealed that 11% of respondents were not interested in the cloud, but almost half of these respondents also reported they already use Office 365. This means that many businesses aren’t even aware that they are already using cloud computing services.
So, why not make the jump? It is now easier than ever to start your transition to the cloud with technologies such as Office 365 and Microsoft Azure.
Here at PEI, we focus on Microsoft Azure because the cloud platform aligns with our business principles:
- Security – PEI and Microsoft Azure safeguard your content with state-of-the-industry security technology and certifications. Content is encrypted in transit.
- Privacy and Control – you control content permissions and usage. You always have access to your content and can delete it or take it with you if you leave.
- Compliance – your content is stored and managed in compliance with applicable laws, regulation and key international standards.
- Transparency – clear, plain language explains the details of how your cloud provider uses, manages and protects your content.
PEI is here to help you right size your cloud environment with our Azure Consulting Services. This service aims to help clients optimize their Azure services and manage associated costs. Our team will help you every step of the way from planning and assessing your cloud needs to designing and implementing cloud solutions, and finally monitoring and managing your cloud environment. Contact PEI to make the jump and optimize your cloud computing services.
Anna Ross, PEI