Businesses to the Cloud – Understanding and Navigating the Terrain
Today, I’m going to talk about Cloud Computing at a very basic, core level to get you familiarized with the terms surrounding Cloud and cloud style deployments. When you ask the question, ‘What is Cloud?’ you could potentially get a mixture of answers from correspondents. The majority of respondents do realize nowadays that the Cloud is not something white and fuzzy in the sky. They understand that a Cloud Computing model provides some way, or platform for consuming resources on-demand, ubiquitously available, and a low cost, based on usage. Cloud Service Providers range the spectrum in terms of service capabilities and offerings. You’ll often time here terms such as IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS – what to do these mean? And how do they apply to me? Those terms, Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, and Software as a Service talk about the different Cloud Deployment models available today. Each are a little bit different in what they are designed to do, but fundamentally, it’s an architecture geared towards an Operational Expenditure (Monthly usage Billing) much like your home utility service. The more you consume, the more you pay. This is very much different from the Capital Expenditure opposite, whereby, the client is investing up front into the people, the equipment, hardware, software to be able to stand up the environment initially.
We then can take a step back and look at the Cloud offerings that were available decades ago, but in some respects we can still call these Cloud style deployments, as you’re investing and leveraging resources from a provider in their own datacenter. Traditional Colocation, Dedicated Hosting, Or Managed Services are the 3 general areas that we talk about when discussing this original Cloud flavor, call it Cloud 1.0
The idea is still the same. If a client wants to host their own existing equipment in the cloud, that’s definitely traditional colocation. If a client wants to scale beyond that, and does not have the physical resources or talent internally, they can offload that burden to an external provider that will in turn, provide the necessary hardware, Servers, switches, firewalls, load-balancers, etc. and wrap around management services across all layers of the environment, from physical floor space, power, cooling, as well as facilities cost, etc. A managed hosting provider will also take care of the application layer and provide the expertise in-house on the application. The will manage hot-fixes, patches, updates, back-ups, etc. as part of their service.
When considering an overall Cloud Strategy, you’re going to take a look at what matters to you? What is important to your line of business. What kind of Values is important to you? Is it Speed, or being more agile? Is it risk avoidance, or the ability to comply with compliances and overall IT governance? Maybe it’s about performance, latency, CPU, or storage I/O; understanding what is important to you is going to help you understand better the options out there and what types of vendors can put together a solution that best meets your goals. Take a look at industry analysts, for some key information as well. You can also leverage research analysts who spend countless hours researching the different providers out there.