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The Cloud Explained: Understanding the Options Clears a Path to Business Value.

Different types of aaS

Pre-conceptions about all-or-nothing deployments often keep businesses from capitalizing on cloud effiiciencies. 

This white paper offers a look at the major components of cloud computing, highlighting considerations that complement existing business strategies and resources.


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Defining The Cloud

So what is the cloud? A cloud strategy moves company resources (such as in-house severs, services or applications) to a data center-like environment, capitalizing on a common shared infrastructure to reduce costs and ensure efficient performance.  The cloud can offer simple data storage or be much more than a place to park your data.

Cloud computing frees up company resources while making the most of existing infrastructure, reducing costs and positioning itself for growth.  The key is in choosing the right options.  There is no one-size-fits-all approach to the cloud.  The term Hybrid cloud was coined to help companies take advantage of the benefits of cloud where possible, as an alternative to an all or nothing cloud strategy. Although it can be a nebulous term, most definitions agree it is a mix of on premise, public and private cloud environments.

Depending on its business environment or security needs, a company may choose to keep some applications hosted in their facility without utilizing the cloud.  Hybrid cloud options ensure flexibility, enabling companies to move some applications to the cloud without walking away from their existing technology investments.  Looking at the business application-by-application is the ideal way to determine what should move to the cloud and what should not.

Considering Cloud Options

Your cloud provider can share strategies that complement your current needs and existing infrastructure, as well as anticipate what’s next. Choices for a cloud strategy ultimately depend on how much control a business wants to either outsource or maintain internally. Greater end-user control equals greater responsibility and the need for more internal resources on-site; greater outsourcing capitalizes on the overall cloud value proposition in terms of reducing operating expenses, accessing specific hardware and software expertise, and quickly increasing scalability of services. Options generally line up in three categories, each of which is also flexible and customizable to the specific needs of a business.

SaaS - Software as a Service

SaaS options are perhaps the simplest type of cloud deployment. Businesses access third-party applications delivered over the web, for example: Salesforce, QuickBooks Online, Microsoft Office 365 or Dropbox. Using any of these as an example, users aren’t necessarily concerned with how the application works, but rather only that it does.  

When was the last time you ever worried about updates to your Dropbox or even Facebook application? Was a bug fixed or a security patch applied overnight? In this type of deployment, the cloud hosting provider handles all software updates while the business user simply accesses the application as needed. This applies to hosted back-ups as well; the cloud provider ensures backups run as scheduled, assuring the business of data protection without having to assign internal resources to manage details or address bugs.                    

cloud responsibility graphicPaaS - Platform as a Service

Optimized cloud services relate to both hardware and software, giving greater flexibility for a business to tap very specific resources supported by deep expertise. These types of services are designed to simplify coding and deployment of custom applications and services in a shared environment. 

The end-user has the support of cloud expertise but in the end has full control, as well as shares in the responsibility. For example, a business may develop a website that requires SQL server capabilities. Rather than employ a SQL server expert or risk developing in unfamiliar territory, the business can turn to a contracted cloud expert to handle middleware programming and performance.

IaaS - Infrastructure as a Service

In contrast to on-premise hardware and software resources – where the business has full control and responsibility over everything – IaaS users essentially subscribe to core layers of a back-end infrastructure.  Users can capitalize on facilities bandwidth, services and managed services; this encompasses hardware and software that powers any or all aspects of a particular application in a shared environment.

Features may include switching, routing, physical servers, power generators, HVAC systems and more. The end-user avoids a potential multi-million dollar investment in infrastructure, yet can retain administrative control over its use and capabilities, such as servers, storage, networks or operating systems.


Capitalizing on Cloud Options

Cloud services are vastly differentiated by hardware and software expertise, which can make the difference in determining a smart cloud strategy that protects existing technology investments and keeps business poised for growth. Understand the cloud is not an all-or-nothing deployment, and ask for and expect a little more from your cloud provider. By complementing existing infrastructure, cloud technologies can be architected to protect on-premise systems, maximize uptime, improve customer access to applications and reduce long-term operating costs. Robust security options ensure safety and performance while allowing existing IT staff to shine with its core competency in company applications.

Move a little of your infrastructure or a lot, as optimized services are flexible, scalable and customizable to your business needs. Evaluate the opportunity to move to the cloud every time you introduce or expand any given application, and grow over time. Optimal use of cloud technology will supplement your existing business strategies and resources – reducing operating costs, improving scalability, ensuring company-wide collaboration and safeguarding business continuity.


Discover how you can capitalize on cloud services.

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