Cloud has been around, but what really is it and why should I use it?
You've probably heard of the term "the cloud" thrown around like it is something that's been around for a while, but what does it really mean when they say "Using the cloud could lead to a lot of advantages for a lot of businesses."?
What is the cloud? + Examples
ZDNet defines it as "the delivery of on-demand services...typically over the internet" and they're right. "the cloud" is not really a place in the sky; "the cloud" is really a server in a datacenter where you can access your documents or data and use applications. How you access your data and applications is typically through the Internet that connects your computer to that datacenter. Below are some modern examples of how most people use the cloud today:
When ZDNet says "on-demand" that means anywhere, anytime. Usually, most people save their documents and download applications onto their hard drive. And, usually, that would mean that they need to use that specific computer/device to access those documents or use that specific application.
For example, let's say you have your new client's quote saved to your computer at work. You can't access that quote unless you are at work using that computer. However, if you put it into Google Drive before you leave, you can access the quote on your cell phone or laptop (or any device that connects to the Internet) as long as you login to Google Drive. Amazing, right?
Applied to Business
When "the cloud" is applied to businesses, it opens up a variety of options. Imagine having the ability to access your desktop from the Internet. That's just a fraction of how powerful the cloud can be. There are many types of services that can be used with the cloud such as Software as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service and more. But, when companies move to the cloud, there are different types that might be more beneficial to them than others.
So, what are the different types of clouds?
There are really three different types of clouds: public, private and hybrid. The difference between the three are really just who owns the datacenter (where your data and apps are stored).
The Public Cloud
The public cloud is where multiple organizations can store information (data, apps, etc) within the same datacenter through a service provider. Usually, the maintenance and the updates of everything in the cloud is done by the service provider.
The service provider is a third party organization that can offer a variety of services that can include:
- providing "the cloud" (the datacenter and the connection to it)
- providing hardware (laptops, mice, hard drives, computers, etc)
- maintaining and updating the software and hardware
- IT support
That could be updating your Microsoft Office or Windows OS to the latest version, making sure your computer is connected to the nearest printer, or reformatting your hard drive.
Even though multiple organizations' information is all stored in the same place, all their information is still kept safely and securely from others that share the space. Company A can't get company B's information. The debate of the public cloud is, still the security, and control.
However, many organizations like this option because it leaves all the IT work to the service provider. Essentially, they don't have to hire new personnel and train them, and buy/own equipment (such as the servers and the actual computers used to connect to them). Everything IT related is for the service provider to take care of.
The Private Cloud
The private cloud is the opposite of the public cloud. It's where one organization can store all it's information in it's own datacenter and is responsible for maintaining and updating everything. There are two types of private clouds that gives organizations more options:
The On Premise Private Cloud
The On Premise Private Cloud is where an organization can store information on it's own datacenter and everything is maintained and updated by the organization. Essentially, instead of having a service provider, the organization does everything by itself. That includes buying all the equipment and hiring IT personnel to manage it. As anyone can imagine, that requires a huge upfront investment. Still the benefits of this includes having access to all the storage they paid for and control over security.
The Hosted Private Cloud
The Hosted Private Cloud is where an organization can store information on a datacenter that is maintained and updated by a service provider. No other organizations can store their data within the same datacenter. The organization's IT team still has access to the datacenter, but those who actually take care of it all is the service provider (see their tasks in the public cloud section).
Many organizations favor this option because it saves costs in hiring new IT personnel and hardware. There is an increased sense of security, but the cost is still higher when compared to the public cloud.
The Hybrid Cloud
The hybrid cloud is really a mixture of the public and private cloud. An organization can have both a public and private cloud that is connected to each other so that information can seamlessly flow between the two. The reason for having both clouds could be using the private cloud to store more sensitive information and the public cloud to hold common workflows.
The benefit of the hybrid cloud is that organizations can have the best of both worlds. It can have the convenience of the public cloud and the control and security of the private cloud. The only disadvantage would be that it definitely requires a bigger investment in cost and time when it is compared to a public cloud.
So, what now?
Adopting the cloud has so many benefits for companies of all sizes, but especially small to medium sized businesses who want to have the advantages that large enterprises do. That includes:
- Cutting costs: Put your money towards what really matters
- Accessibility: Reach your work from anywhere and anytime - all you need is an Internet connection
- Convenience: So, you can save time working on your business instead of your technology
- Disaster Recovery: Just incase something coffee is spilled in office, or there is a storm brewing, your data is backed up in "the cloud".
Based on the cloud types that were just describe, what type of cloud do you think you're business needs? Drop a comment below.