Cloud Computing: Which model is right for you?
The benefits of cloud computing
Thinking about investing in cloud computing for your business? Speed, convenience, security and flexibility are among the reasons to consider making the move.
At their simplest, clouds are places where data files can be stored and accessed from anywhere. Companies can choose a cloud computing model that is right for them, depending on their needs, whether its access to IT infrastructure, software and hardware resources, or applications and other resources managed by third parties.
Industries that depend on information sharing and collaboration, such as government, healthcare, financial and manufacturing, are among those that can benefit the most from cloud computing models. Marketing groups, data security firms, accounting firms, and educational institutions can also benefit. Industries like agriculture are also seeing the benefits of uploading and sharing data to and within the cloud. Farmers can increase productivity and efficiency by accessing terrain map and crop visualization, farm vehicle management and business intelligence for performance benchmarking.
Although large organizations have been first to take advantage of the new tech, more accessible and affordable cloud computing services are starting to attract small and mid-size businesses. For example, a hotel chain that is seeing its profits eaten away by price aggregators like Hotels.com, Expedia and Travelocity could test price elasticity online using cloud services.
Currently, there are three models of cloud computing: public, private and hybrid. Below, we look at the types of cloud computing services and options available, and which might work for your business.
Types of cloud services: IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS
Cloud computing services can be broken down into three types: IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service), and SaaS (Software as a Service).
IaaS include managed hosting and development environments. Web-hosting companies are IaaS providers. Customers can access enterprise-grade IT resources and infrastructure, and users can scale up and down based on their requirements. Resources provided include RAM, CPU and storage infrastructure.
In PaaS, developers can use the cloud to develop applications. Cloud-based PaaS offers a base operating system and a suite of applications and development tools
SaaS is software made available to users via the Internet. This software, which includes everything from email to project management tools, is accessible from anywhere, customizable, low maintenance and cost effective.
Types of cloud computing: public, private, hybrid and multi
The public cloud is a multi-tenant environment, meaning that the physical hardware (i.e. the servers) is shared with other users. Services and infrastructure are provided via the Internet. Public cloud computing offers the advantage of pay-as-you-go scalability, which is an advantage when it comes to unpredictable traffic. Customers can access enterprise-grade IT resources and infrastructure, and users can scale up and down based on their requirements. However, it offers less security than private or hybrid cloud computing.
The public model can be used for SaaS applications from a vendor that already has security in place and PaaS services such as software development.
Private cloud is a dedicated, virtualized environment for a single client. Private computing options offer scalability plus the enhanced security and control of a single-tenant environment. This is the best option when security and control are priorities. Because it requires the company itself to purchase and maintain the software and infrastructure, private cloud options are also the most costly.
Healthcare, financial and other organizations with security and privacy issues stand to benefit most from this model.
The most versatile model, the hybrid cloud allows you to keep each aspect of your business in the most efficient environment, i.e. public or private. For instance, you can use a public cloud to interact with clients and a private secure cloud to store their data.
Although potentially the most efficient and cost-saving, the hybrid model does require that you ensure that the different business silos are able to communicate with each other.
The multi-cloud approach involves using different clouds for different purposes, or different cloud providers rather than one. According to 451 Research, multi-cloud will become the preferred strategy among 69 per cent of organizations by 2019. The growing migration to a multi-cloud system is one of our 6 Business Predictions for the New Year.
Out with the old, in with the new
At the forefront of new technologies, clouds are developing to meet companies’ changing needs.
And, as more businesses move from their standard IT infrastructure to different cloud options, providers are becoming more competitive. If you haven’t already, now might be the time to consider moving to a new cloud-based data model.