It is our goal here at BACS IT to keep our information relevant to our customers and our readers. We updated the information in this blog to provide you with more value and insight as to the types of cloud solutions we have available as of August, 2021. Please read through our blog and contact us if you have any questions!
Businesses worldwide have started implementing the use of cloud solutions for handling their technology storage needs. These solutions allow for off-site servers and hardware that is easy to access via the internet. There’s no doubt that this off-site setup allows for reduced business expenses that come from paying for on-site housing physical infrastructure and staff to manage it.
Are you considering moving to a cloud solution? If you have done even some rudimentary research, you may have been overwhelmed with all the options that are available. From public clouds to hybrid clouds, there are a variety of cloud solutions available. Which one is right for your company? The truth is that each cloud computing solution offers different benefits for different businesses. Not all of these solutions will be right for you, which is why it’s vital to compare your options before selecting one. Before looking at your options, here are the features that all cloud solutions offer.
What All Cloud Solutions Have in Common
All types of cloud solutions do have many features in common. By using a cloud instead of a single server or even a farm of servers, you are able to take advantage of the shared processing power, storage capacity, and other resources. Server loads can be distributed among all servers in the cloud, reducing the amount of pressure a single server is under. Servers can automatically balance these loads, too, so one server never experiences a high load. This prevents servers from being overtaxed, plus users do not experience any slowdown or other issues related to a lack of resources.
All cloud solutions offer outstanding backup and continuity. You may back up your data locally, but should a disaster affect your business, that backup may be lost. By backing your data up to the cloud, it is stored off-site. Ideally, your cloud will contain servers located in various physical locations. You can back up data to servers in each of these locations. This means that even if one location goes offline, servers from other locations have a copy of your data.
In addition to sharing benefits, all cloud solutions can offer the same cloud services. Typically, these services fall under three categories: software, infrastructure, and platform. You may need to make use of one, two, or all three of these services.
- Software-as-a-Service: Instead of installing copies of every piece of software on individual computers, cloud servers can provide software-as-a-service (SaaS). This allows any individual with the correct login credentials to access software without downloading or installing it on their computer. Businesses pay a licensing fee or subscription rather than buying multiple copies of software. This allows you to quickly scale your business by adding or removing licenses as needed.
- Infrastructure-as-a-Service: If you plan on using the cloud, you will likely take advantage of infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). It includes the virtual servers, data storage, and operating systems that allow businesses to fully benefit from the cloud’s scalability, reliability, and flexibility. You will not need to purchase server hardware or dedicate employees to its upkeep. This is cost-effective for smaller businesses, but it is also effective for larger corporations.
- Platform-as-a-Service: If your business needs more than IaaS and SaaS offers, you can opt to make use of platform-as-a-service (PaaS). This option allows you to develop applications yourself, personalizing them to your unique needs. You can scale these solutions to fit your business or for testing. This is ideal if your business has multiple developments in progress or a large number of developers working together on a project.
All cloud options allow you to make use of these three types of solutions, either individually or in combination. This means you will want to look at the other benefits before you decide if you’re looking for a public, private, hybrid, or community cloud solution.
1. Public Clouds
The most popular and common cloud solution is the public cloud. Public cloud providers provide infrastructure and services for a large group of customers. This type of solution works best for collaborative projects and software development. Due to the easy scalability and pay-as-you-go structure, public clouds are an excellent option for developers to create and test their applications before switching to a private option. Developers can create and test applications on a public cloud, then later move them to their private cloud if needed. This allows developers from other locations to collaborate on the project.
The major downside of public clouds is the lack of control. You rent the servers rather than own them. This means that the solution provider has full control over the hardware. They could also decide to change their platform at any moment or even shut down operations. This situation requires consistent monitoring and the ability to quickly respond to any changes made by the provider.
Public networks are also susceptible to more security issues as users don’t have any control over the security measures implemented for the network. You may always request specific hardware updates or security solutions, but the provider is typically not obligated to provide those solutions.
Because multiple businesses use the servers in a public cloud, you may not have the option to add specific services. This includes operating systems and hardware that are uncommon or that would affect the other businesses that are renting space in the public cloud.
- A massive amount of space offers easy scalability
- The pay as you go structure fits the needs of smaller businesses
- You can easily manage your cloud’s services through a self-service web portal
- You can move projects to a private cloud as needed
- The solution provider has full control over the hardware and other features
- You must follow the provider’s terms and services
- The cloud is susceptible to significant platform changes and provider shut down at any time
- You could experience more unpatched security issues or vulnerabilities
Recommended For: Public clouds are best for those businesses that are not looking for a high level of data security. They are also ideal for companies that are just starting and have minimal investment funds. Small to medium business owners may find that public clouds fit their budget where other options don’t. Public clouds tend to be preferred by software developers who need the convenience of easily scaling up their space without the massive infrastructure investment at first. Many developers, once finished, will switch from public to private for a more secure application.
2. Private Clouds
Private cloud solutions, on the other hand, offer a more secure solution for businesses that need their data to be accessible only by authorized users of a single organization. No other business or organization uses this private cloud. The actual infrastructure can be positioned on-site or accessed via a partner provider. Since private clouds are under your full control, there is no threat of sudden changes or shutdowns. You can also determine the hardware solutions, when maintenance is done, and much more.
However, there is a downside: the cost. While private clouds can be an ideal option for businesses with strict data collection and storage regulations, they can be very costly. This is because, unlike public clouds, your company is assuming the full cost of maintaining the servers in your private cloud. With public clouds, the maintenance and upkeep cost are shared between every business that has rented server space.
Another factor that affects the cost of a private cloud is scalability. With public clouds, you can use the massive amount of available space to expand easily. With private clouds, though, you will need to add more infrastructure and software to expand. This cost makes scalability time-consuming and expensive for any organization regardless of size. The trade-off of having full control of your private cloud is that you also are completely responsible for all costs, upgrades, maintenance, and security.
- Only your business and those you allow can access your private cloud
- Take advantage of customizable security and other features
- You have full control over the hardware and software used in the cloud
- There is no risk of sudden changes or of the provider shutting down
- Private clouds can be hosted on-site or accessed online
- Because the financial responsibility for the private cloud all falls on you, the cost is higher
- Private clouds are expensive to quickly scale
- Small or medium-size businesses may not have the budget for this option.
Recommended For: Private clouds are highly sought-after by businesses who work in industries with highly restricted data regulations. These include financial organizations, government agencies, healthcare providers, and schools. These businesses do need to have a large budget, however, because private clouds are costly. This is especially true if your business is on the verge of scaling up and will need to expand its cloud.
3. Hybrid Clouds
As the name suggests, hybrid clouds offer features of both private and public clouds. In this solution, businesses can utilize public clouds for some aspects of their business and private clouds for others. The hybrid model allows for seamless interaction between both private and public platforms. There are typically two ways to utilize hybrid clouds.
The first is called cloud bursting. In this configuration, private clouds are used as a primary solution to store data and house exclusive business applications in a secure environment. Public clouds are used as a backup resource to ensure that these exclusive applications operate seamlessly when user demand increases beyond the private solution’s limits. This solution helps save your business money because you don’t have to buy more infrastructure or servers to handle high demand. If you did buy more private servers, you would then have more infrastructure than you need during less busy times. It wouldn’t be an efficient use of resources.
The second hybrid model is based on using public clouds for outsourcing non-critical business applications. These non-critical applications include basic productivity tools and other applications or CRM tools. However, your exclusive applications and data storage are housed in private clouds for more secure access. This multi-cloud architecture allows businesses to take advantage of private security for regulatory needs while still enjoying cheaper public computing for basic tasks. For example, you likely do not need to house Microsoft Office 365 or Adobe Lightroom on a private server, so those SaaS solutions could reside on public clouds.
- Allows for a cost-effective solution that combines private and public clouds
- Ensures a business can always meet user demand
- You can customize your private cloud’s security to fit your needs
- Secure data is more protected, while common applications can be more easily shared
- Can be more difficult to set up and maintain
- Can make business data more susceptible to threat when user demand is high
- The cost of setting up a private cloud still applies
Recommended For: Businesses who deal with frequent spikes in demand. Some well-known businesses that use this hybrid model include Airbnb, Uber, and Netflix. Small and medium-sized businesses may not need this capability. The high cost of setting up a private cloud is also a factor for those with restricted budgets. While they are not as common as public or private clouds, hybrid clouds do have their uses. You may find that this solution offers you the best of both worlds.
4. Community Clouds
While the first three cloud solutions are the most common, there is a fourth option: community clouds. This solution is commonly used by businesses within the same industry. They work essentially as private clouds, but they are shared among a handful of companies. This model creates a multi-tenant environment similar to that of a public cloud. You share the cloud and its resources with other companies, but you also share the cost. This reduces the high cost of infrastructure and software that come with private clouds. The members of the business that use the community cloud jointly manage it. Community clouds can be housed on-site, such as in a shared industrial building, or at a data center.
- Much cheaper than a single organization private solution
- Allows for optimal data security at more affordable costs
- Combines the scalability of a public cloud with the customization of a private cloud
- Decisions are collaborative rather than controlled by the cloud provider
- Network security depends on effective management of infrastructure
- You do rely on the other businesses sharing the community cloud to share in the cost
Recommended For: Common users of community clouds include those in the financial services sector, healthcare organizations, and government agencies. Any company that feels comfortable sharing a cloud with other businesses and needs the benefits of a private cloud may want to consider this option.
Selecting the Right Cloud Option
Now that you understand the basics of these four options, you need to select one. There are benefits and drawbacks to public, private, hybrid, and community clouds. That’s why selecting the right one for your business is vital. There are several factors you can use to eliminate some of your options:
- Price plays a significant role in your ability to choose the ideal solution for your business. You may not have the money in your budget for a private or hybrid solution. Smaller or new businesses may need to pay especially close attention to the cost of their cloud.
- Security Requirements vary depending on your industry. Some government regulations may require your business to have a private solution for data storage. Make certain you understand what data regulations your industry must follow and select a solution that meets those requirements.
- User Demand, for some businesses, fluctuates tremendously. Having the available infrastructure to handle high times of demand is a must to keep customers coming back. If your business has this fluctuation, you will need a solution that offers scalability and flexibility without additional costs.
- Industry Partners can be a great asset to save money on data storage and operation solutions. Those with many industry partners may opt for community clouds instead of bearing the full cost of a private cloud. However, you want to select partners who are stable and will be reliable for many years.
You will need to fully analyze your business and your needs as well. Once you have a good understanding of what you need in a cloud, you will be able to see which options can be discarded.
However, the cloud solution that is right for you today may not be right five or ten years from now. Fortunately, migrating from public to private or hybrid solutions is easy. You will want to re-evaluate your cloud solution annually or every few years to make certain that it still meets your needs. If it does not, it may be time to consider moving to a different option.
Let BACS IT Help You Find the Type of Cloud Solutions That Will Work Best for You
Choosing a cloud solution requires diligence and understanding of your business’s various options and the many benefits that those options can provide. By analyzing the benefits and your needs, you should be fully capable of selecting the right type of solution for your business.