Most people are familiar with the cloud, they use it daily. In their daily lives, this might be Apples iCloud, or one of Google’s cloud offerings, such as Google Drive. They might use OneDrive from Microsoft and any number of web hosted email services. These are all part of cloud computing.
On the business front, many companies and organizations use Office 365 from Microsoft, which DVANA supply, manage, maintain and create sector specific solutions. The differences that we’ll talk about in this article, come down to where the data is stored and where it is processed, as these do not need to be the same places.
When talking about an On-Premises solution or system, the data and the processing are typically done locally. That is on systems (hardware and software) owned by the company. Your systems. This has the obvious advantage that the data is kept within the confines of the business and is therefore, safe from the wider world. The system is entirely yours and as such, you have exclusive and full access to the resource and must maintain and manage those resources. The big downside is that you must also pay for the full cost of the system up-font (ignoring any kind of financing plan, which are also widely used).
So, taking our Microsoft Office system, this can be run On premises, with the data stored on a local server and shared around the office. This is the way things have been done for decades. Nice, simple and well understood. It is probably what most businesses do at the moment.
We will conflate Private Cloud with On Premises, to keep the article cleaner. Looking at a more complex system, the database servers, application servers etc., could be situated on-site, or in a nearby datacentre where it would be a private cloud. This is convenient, as servicing and maintenance are easy, full control of the hardware and software enable an optimized solution, which can squeeze every bit of performance out of the system.
The public cloud as it is known, stores the data, processes the data on the remote systems of another company, such as Microsoft, Google or Amazon. The applications are created in much the same way, using the tools provided by the cloud provider. The pricing models vary, but in the general case, public cloud systems cost less to run than on-premises systems. This is simply because with the public cloud, you pay for what you use. They will scale automatically as your needs grow and then shrink back as they diminish. This “elastic” property is where the public cloud really shines.
As an example, in retail, it is well understood that through October, November and December, the volume of traffic hitting a website (e-commerce or catalogue) will increase. Now, either a company buys the capacity for the peak demand and have that capability unused most of the year, or use a cloud system. Clearly, as the demand increases, we can bring more resources online and provide the highest level of service and responsiveness to the shopper. Then after the peak in December, demand drops off, and so capacity is simply removed, cutting operating costs. From a practical perspective, it is also easier for operations to manage, as they can scale up and down, while providing any necessary maintenance.
Microsoft provide a cloud computing platform or Public Cloud system called Microsoft Azure. This is a comprehensive set of tools and systems to enable a business to create the applications, host the data and process the data all on the Azure system.
Amazon Web Services is a similar concept to Azure, they provide the software, servers and connectivity to enable your application to run effectively in the cloud. Perhaps their most well-known user is the media streaming service Netflix.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, there is a potential problem with the public cloud systems. What happens if they go down? Or, if my network stops working? Let’s take these one at a time.
If the cloud platform stops working for any reason, then yes, any data stored there will be in accessible and any processing will also stop. The cloud providers have a solution to this problem, they provide Geo-location, which basically means that they enable your system to run in more than one datacentre at once, sending the data from place to place. This gets us partly out of the hole. Not entirely, but it helps. Conversely, what happens to an on premises system when it goes down? Same problem, different control of solution. With the cloud system, you are to just wait until the provider fixes the problem, with on-premises, you have to fix it. Snakes and ladders!
Loss of network can be a genuine problem, particularly if you’re not really using the full mobility offered by the cloud hosting of the data, if it all comes back to a single location, then an on premises solution might be better. In a generalized case, the data users will be distributed over a wide area, so loss of connectivity at one location might not affect the availability at another.
This is the first point of action for most SMEs (Small and Medium sized Enterprises), in the first instance, the internal system is connected to the private cloud. Services are the provisioned in the cloud and consumed by the multiple sites of the business. A typical example of this might be the use of Office 365, and the use of SharePoint Online. This enables all the documents to be easily shared between the different locations.
The important point with a Hybrid Cloud is that part of the system is On-Premises and part is in the Cloud. How the work and data are shared is not so important. This is also the route a business will typically take when entering the cloud arena. Starting with something small, that is well understood and with minimal impact.
DVANA provide the services and the expertize to make them work for you, so why not join our other clients and reap the rewards of a cloud based system. We’ll fully consider the pros and cons of a cloud system for you and make sure that you’re fully comfortable with the solution and the contingencies. The Plan-B is always part of a DVANA strategy.
How would you like to leverage the benefits of the Cloud? To see how DVANA can help you fulfil that vision, please call 0333 006 3800 now.