Cloud Computing – A primer
Use of the term cloud computing is now commonplace, Apple’s iCloud, Google Apps, OneDrive and Dropbox are a few of the well-known names.
You’ve heard about it, but aren’t sure how to ask if it might apply in your business. Is it risky, is it cost efficient, does it afford us the ability to work from home, office and while we are away on business or vacation.
Many organizations have adopted a wait and see approach. Making a decision to move to the cloud seems deferrable, and we’re all pretty busy working on our core business…. Right?
So the question is, when is it time to take the plunge. This then raises a number of other questions such as:
What is the “cloud” ?
How do I know what part of the cloud to move in to, and in what order?
Is there a staged way to adopt the cloud… you know, bite sized pieces?
Who is out there to help me?
How much will it cost me?
How long will it take?
How disruptive will it be?
What parts of my business will be affected?
Over the next few issues we’ll discuss some of these questions.
But for now, let’s lay the groundwork by defining the two broad types of cloud services you are likely to encounter as you consider making the plunge; public cloud and private cloud.
Public cloud is a service or suite of services that provide pay for use functionality by connecting to them over the internet and paying for them, typically on a monthly basis. Service, when you need it is either very expensive (if you want or need prompt response) or very slow, if you are willing to accept slow response.
Public cloud vendors offer their services from their own cloud facilities from physical locations called data centres, strategically placed around the globe. The point is, you don’t need to know or care where they may be.
By signing up, you put your trust in these companies to be good at what they do, and to protect your data. Great examples of public cloud are Microsoft’s Office 365, Google App and Salesforce.com. There are lots of other examples.
Private cloud is a service or suite of services that you contract to use from a vendor, typically local and known to you, to manage your data and configure business critical functions such as your ERP or accounting systems, or to maintain your backups and disaster recovery systems.
These vendors provide the equipment, the readily accessible expertise, and the physical and logical security, and insulate you from needing to change or retire equipment or to maintain or patch software and operating systems.
What is common both to Private and Public cloud resources, is that they are typically paid for monthly, and they remove you, the business owner or operator, from needing to maintain complex, expensive depreciating equipment.
They both also introduce one of the most compelling value propositions of the cloud; scalability. That means, as your company grows (or contracts) so too can the services you pay for. This really helps take the frustrating guess work of capital planning.
Next time we’ll take a look at one of the most common cloud functions that organizations to which organizations large and small turn in order to start their journey down the path of “moving to the cloud”, Backup and Disaster Recovery.