Understanding Cloud Solutions
Cloud solutions differ from their on-premise counterparts in a number of ways. One core difference is that adopting a cloud model shifts your direction.
“It moves a business primarily from a CapEx spending model to an OpEx model in the sense that a lot of your expenditures become more subscription-based, with less investment in infrastructure, as well as less management of said infrastructure,” notes Tom Jarry, manager of Project Services and Customer Relationships at Cooperative Systems.
What that means to most companies is that it helps make technology a more predictable expenditure.
“They’re not going to run into situations where they’re adding an application and need to come up with a substantial amount of capital for a project,” he says. “And since they’re not buying $100,000 servers for the application, they can rely on cloud computing to post that and just pay on a monthly basis for those services.”
A Resilient Solution
Among the other benefits of cloud computing is that it adds resiliency in that it offers redundancy behind the scenes.
“A typical small or medium-sized business might not have the budget to put together a redundant solution in their own environment—having redundant servers means that if one were to fail, the other one can pick up,” he says. “The majority of cloud-computing solutions have redundancy built in, and it might be even redundant across geographies.”
He uses the example of businesses using Microsoft 365 for their hosted email. Not only is it redundant within the datacenters that Microsoft uses to host clients—you might be in an East Coast datacenter in Virginia—but your data is also sitting in multiple datacenters across the country or even the world.
What that means is that, in the event that there is ever a disaster that affects a certain geography, it doesn’t necessarily take down your solution.
“When you’re running on-premise solutions, you have to worry about something in your geography causing an outage that could affect your entire organization,” Jarry points out.
Cloud types are fairly common: the public cloud (services offered by third-party providers over the public internet, such as AWS from Amazon, Azure from Microsoft, or Google Cloud); private cloud (a cloud computing environment dedicated to a single organization); and a hybrid cloud—a combination of the first two.
Public cloud services are typically shared infrastructure in the sense that your workloads are running on the same physical hardware as other customers, so in that particular case, you are sharing resources in a bit of a similar way to how your home internet shares resources. If your neighbors are watching a ton of streaming or they have a lot of kids gaming, it may slow down your internet. To some degree, the same can be said of the public cloud.
“Those offering a public cloud solution do some resource capacity planning to ensure that there is a certain level of performance, but it’s not the same as having your own infrastructure,” Jarry says. “That’s the primary difference between a private and public cloud.”
A hybrid cloud isn’t one thing or the other. It might appear that you’re utilizing a private cloud service and a public cloud service, or it might look like you have on-premise servers as well as a private cloud. It’s essentially a mix of different environments.
In addition to types, there are also different platforms, including SaaS (Software as a Service), IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), and PaaS (Platform as a Service).
Each one has a different use case and each sounds pretty much like what it is.
“If you sign up for QuickBooks online, that’s SaaS,” says Jarry. “If you use Microsoft 365, your hosted email is SaaS.”
In an IaaS model, a cloud provider manages IT infrastructures such as storage, server, and networking resources, and delivers them to subscriber organizations via virtual machines accessible through the internet.
“Let’s say you need a cloud-hosted firewall to help employees connect to a creative system. That’s an example of IaaS,” he explains.
PaaS is a complete development and deployment environment in the cloud. In the PaaS platform, you purchase the resources you need from a cloud service provider on a pay-as-you-go basis and access them over a secure internet connection. Like IaaS, PaaS includes infrastructure—servers, storage, and networking—but also middleware, development tools, business intelligence (BI) services, database management systems, and more. It’s designed to support the complete web application lifecycle, including building, testing, deploying, managing, and updating.
“For most businesses, their entry to cloud services is SaaS,” adds Jarry. “Every business is using some kind of software as a service, whether they know it or not. You might be using Mailchimp for your email communications. You might be using Dropbox to share files with your clients. Those are all SaaS applications. Many also use IaaS, but PaaS is less common in the customers we serve.”
Weighing Your Cloud Options
If you’re considering moving into the cloud (or going further if you already utilize it), Cooperative Systems can help find the optimal type and platform for your needs. We’re able to offer a wide range of customizable, innovative solutions to best fit your company’s needs because we own our SOC 2-compliant data center. (Developed by the American Institute of CPAs, SOC 2 is a voluntary compliance standard for service organizations that specifies how organizations should manage customer data. The standard is based on the following Trust Services Criteria: security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy.) After a thorough evaluation, we’ll walk you through the best recommendations for your business.To learn more about how Cooperative Systems can guide you through the cloud, visit our website.