The Cloud And Your Business

The Cloud. You hear it whispered in hushed tones in the board room, and whenever people are trying to reduce their IT costs “Let’s move everything to the cloud” is never far behind.

But what is it exactly? It’s never really been made clear and that’s a problem – how can you realistically make a decision if The Cloud is right for your business if it’s not well defined?

In order to try and demystify “The Cloud”, we first need to stop calling it “The Cloud” and refer to the specific service in question. There are three major services you can take advantage of when it comes to leveraging the cloud in your organisation – and each can build on the others

Infrastructure as a Service – IaaS

Infrastructure as a Service is the closest relation to the traditional datacentre, with the nuts and bolts being taken care of by your provider, it’s then your responsibility to take care of the operating system (after install) and everything built on top of that. Amazon’s EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) is a classic example of IaaS. With IaaS you can scale your server deployment both up and down, very quickly and only pay for the server time that you use.

Platform as a Service – PaaS

Platform as a Service abstracts another few layers away, where you only need to worry about the code you deploy onto the systems – ideal for software companies that may not have system administration skills in house. Major players in this field would be Heroku for Ruby (and now node.js and clojure) and also Google App Engine for Python, Java, PHP, and Go.

Software as a Service – SaaS

Software as a Service is the furthest away from the bare metal, on-premises servers previously deployed – you simply pay to use the application that you are interested in. For example, you are in the market for a CRM system, and you’ve selected SalesForce – you sign up and start using the software immediately, nothing to configure or deploy – great for service based organisations that may not be technologically savvy.

What next

Now one of these may sound like a silver bullet to your IT woes and to be honest, in many, many cases, it really is – your CapEx is reduced, your technology costs frequently become variable costs, for instance if you’re a retailer, you don’t need to worry about scaling up in the event of seasonal demand.

However, as with most things it comes with a price, and this time it’s in the form of compromise and a loss of control. You have to rely on your service provider to act with your best interests, and what may be in your best interest, may not be the same as your neighbour that you’re sharing the physical hardware with. You also lose the ability to access the raw hardware, if your company has developed a piece of software that relies heavily on compute power, you may find that traditional servers or a combination service where demand in excess of the capacity you have in-house is diverted to an IaaS platform – at the expense of a slower service.

Need help demystifying your cloud?

Don’t worry if you still don’t know what to do, that’s what we’re here for. If you’d like to book a free 15-minute call with our managing director, Daniel, you can do it using the link below

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