Overview

In recent years, cloud computing has become the trendsetter among businesses of all scale. The spending on the cloud has risen over the years. Recently, the global pandemic and the lockdown that followed gave cloud computing a boost. Yes, cloud computing is a technology that’s going to set in the near future. 

What is Cloud Computing?

It’s time to have a quick recap on what cloud computing is. Cloud computing, as you know, is the delivery of computing resources like databases, servers, software, networking, and analytics over the internet.

A few vendors, generally known vendors or cloud service providers, provide the necessary cloud infrastructure to the clients.

Let us explore more about cloud computing.

A brief history

The idea of network-based computing dates to the 1960s. The term ‘cloud computing’ was first used in 2006 when then Google CEO Eric Schmidt introduced the term at an industry conference. In the same year, Amazon Web Services (AWS) launched Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) that enabled people to rent virtual computers on which to run their own applications and programs online. Google Docs soon followed, and a year later, Apple launched iCloud, Netflix came out with its video streaming website, and IBM and Oracle released their cloud offerings.

Early success of cloud computing

Initially, the cloud was attractive to companies as it removed the pressure of maintaining and updating their IT systems, saving them time, money and effort that they could dedicate to core and strategic business activities. The dawn of the data age and rapid pace of technology advancements created awareness around the value of the cloud for sustaining disruption and maintaining competitive edge.

Characteristics of Cloud Computing

On-demand self-service: Cloud providers offer APIs that users can access to request new resources and scale existing resources.  

Broad network access: Cloud providers have globally distributed physical hardware accessible from a wide range of locations. 

Resource pooling: Cloud providers serve multiple clients, dividing computing resources dynamically and allocating them on-demand. 

Rapid elasticity: Resources can scale up or  down automatically to business demands with no additional contract or penalties. 

Measured services: Cloud providers measure and monitor the provision of services to determine usage costs and optimize resource usage.

Types of cloud services

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) provides software applications over the internet, including webmail application, CRM system, ERP system, productivity tools and analytics tools. Examples: Salesforce, Google Workspace, Dropbox, Slack, HubSpot, MailChimp and BigCommerce. 

Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) provides pay-as-you-go storage, networking and virtualization services. Examples: Google Compute Engine, AWS EC2, Rackspace and Microsoft Azure. 

Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) provides user-level applications, compute and storage resources, middleware, database management systems and development tools. Examples: Apache Stratos, AWS Elastic Beanstalk and Magento Commerce Cloud.

Types of cloud deployment

Public cloud is a cloud environment in which computing resources are delivered via the public internet and shared across multiple organizations. The cloud provider owns and operates all the hardware, software and supporting infrastructure. 

Private cloud is a single-tenant cloud environment dedicated solely to a single organization, offering more control and customization than the public cloud. It can be located physically at the organization’s on-premise data center or hosted by the cloud provider. 

Hybrid cloud is a combination of public and private clouds.

Benefits of Cloud Computing

Cloud is key to data modernization 

Data is the lifeblood of a company. The value of data can only be captured if it is easily available throughout the organization, and accessible on-demand, from anywhere. However, organizational data continues remaining siloed in legacy databases. Moving data to the cloud improves its accessibility, driving better collaboration and decision-making. Data modernization using cloud computing brings together data from multiple sources for a cohesive view, increases speed of access and enables dynamic intelligence.

Cloud accelerates IT modernization 

In a hypercompetitive market, technology is an important differentiator. Companies looking to move away from outdated and inefficient legacy infrastructure are considering the cloud to leverage the latest fully-developed software solutions, frameworks to build whatever they want, and virtualized computing infrastructure without spending a small fortune. Smart utilization of the cloud can take companies’ real-time decision-making capabilities, efficiency, innovation agility and adaptability to the next level.

Which Companies Need Cloud Computing?

Now that you have an idea of what cloud computing is, you should know that all companies can benefit from it. Start-ups leverage it for benefits of speed and agility, and the ability to access IT resources more cost-effectively. Large organizations look to the cloud to enable more collaboration within the organization, save on IT costs, benefit from the latest IT solutions, innovate rapidly, and boost competitiveness. Cloud adoption helps companies stay current in the face of industry disruptions, and manage challenges of shrinking and expanding business cycles.  

Some industries and businesses, in particular, can benefit tremendously by moving to the cloud:

– Heavily regulated sectors including healthcare, finance, telecommunications, energy, life sciences and transportation.

– Businesses relying on analytics and real-time reporting, such as marketing groups, retailers, web developers and accounting firms. 

– Businesses with global teams and remote workers.

2021 cloud usage trends point to a growing adoption of multi-cloud strategies. According  to Gartner, it refers to the use of multiple cloud providers in order to make the most of best-in-breed solutions and/or avoid vendor lock-in. A well-planned multi-cloud infrastructure enables a hybrid cloud environment that offers both security and cost savings.

When is a good time for cloud adoption?

Companies’ decision on cloud adoption is usually based on an evaluation of the business benefits they can potentially gain. Some scenarios that drive companies to pursue cloud adoption are:

–         The need for real-time data for decision-making and reporting. For example, supply chain managers may decide it’s time to leverage cloud technology when they need to closely track a product throughout its lifecycle, and locate a shipment at any stage of transport. A manufacturer’s decision may be based on improving inventory turnover and reducing warehousing costs.

–         When the company’s need for mobile access grows as a result of remote work or an increase in corporate travel for deal-making and business growth. Ensuring the availability of information on-demand from anywhere in the world has implications for productivity and performance. 

–         When business (B2B) partners move to cloud computing, companies follow suit to ensure a connected system of real-time data that benefits all parties. Sharing data up and down the supply chain boosts visibility, efficiency and transparency. 

–         A switch to cloud computing by competitors also prompts companies to explore cloud-based services. It promises better customer satisfaction, new product development, and ability to manage communication and isolation challenges of remote work from unprecedented events such as pandemics. 

–         The cloud is a cost-effective way to upgrade the organization’s IT infrastructure. It is on the agenda of companies that need new software and a technology overhaul due to obsolescence or business expansion. 

The question to ask isn’t when should an organization adopt cloud computing, but how soon can it begin its cloud journey. It is possible that the company is already using the cloud in one form or another. There are cost savings to moving to the cloud. Once companies have identified use cases, researching cloud services and pricing packages, and budgeting can begin without delay. 

What factors are most important when choosing a cloud provider?

Certifications and standards: Does the provider comply with recognized standards (ex: ISO 27001) and quality frameworks? It indicates the provider’s adherence to industry best practices.

Technologies and service: Does the provider’s cloud architecture and services suit your workloads? Can their platform and technologies support your business environment and cloud objectives?

Data governance and security: Does the provider offer choice and control in terms of the jurisdictions in which your data is stored, processed and managed?

Vendor relationships: Has the provider partnered with reputed vendors? What are their technical abilities and their staff’s certifications?

Reliability and performance: Does the provider have proven processes for handling planned and unplanned downtime? Review their performance against their SLAs for the last 12 months.

Disaster recovery: What kind of disaster recovery processes and provisions does the provider have? Do they meet your recovery time objective?

Contracts and SLAs: Are the service and deliverables clearly defined? Do the SLAs cover service-level objectives (SLO), related remediation and penalties, and exclusions and caveats? Also check exit provisions.

Cost model: How does the provider’s pricing model compare against competitors? Are there discounts for longer commitments?

Companies looking to migrate virtual workloads to containers should review the provider’s container capabilities. 

In Conclusion

You might now be aware of what cloud computing is. Have a few questions in mind on cloud migration? Need to learn more about how the cloud impacts your business? The experienced IT consultants at SysAlly can help you identify cloud applications to solve your business challenges and support your revenue growth. Let’s talk about how to explore more on cloud strategy for your business.

FAQ

What is the purpose of cloud computing?

Numerous use cases can be identified. Common reasons for moving to the cloud include big data analytics, disaster planning, unifying global operations, hosting applications and services, and accelerating application development.

What are the main benefits of migrating to the cloud?

Scalability - Cloud computing can scale more easily than on-premise infrastructure to support more users and bigger workloads.
Cost – As cloud providers handle maintenance and upgrades, companies save significantly on IT operational costs.
Performance – The cloud improves the speed of IT delivery, improving performance and end-user experience.

How do you choose between IaaS, PaaS and SaaS?

IaaS is a good option in the following cases:

- A lack of funds to develop IT infrastructure
- Need a server in the cloud (virtual machine)
- Using big data and handling large workloads
- Need to change hardware and software in line with evolving needs
- Need highly flexible and scalable cloud solutions

SaaS should be considered in the following cases:

- Fast collaboration on a short-term project with multiple stakeholders
- For the quick launch of an e-commerce project
- A business application that requires web and mobile access
- Need out-of-the-box services (email, ERP, CRM and more)

PaaS is suitable in the following cases:
- Custom software development
- Mobile application development
- Making Agile Development even more agile (faster coding, testing and deployment)

What are the advantages and disadvantages of cloud computing?

Unparalleled data accessibility, unlimited storage capacity and low IT maintenance costs are among the key advantages of cloud computing.

As for disadvantages, companies adopting the cloud need reliable internet access to maximize their use of cloud services. A loss of control is a disadvantage of the public cloud. On the other hand, the private cloud offers greater control over configurations and physical isolation. A lack of due diligence in choosing a cloud provider can create security and compliance risks for companies.

What is cloud migration?

In cloud computing, migration is the process of moving data and applications from the company’s on-premise architecture to the cloud. Most enterprises have partially migrated to the cloud.

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