Cloud Computing explained
“Cloud Computing” refers to the on-demand delivery of IT resources and applications hosted, delivered, and accessed remotely on the Internet rather than on a local server or personal computer, typically provided as either pay-as-you-go and/or tiered flat-rate pricing models.
The Cloud enables ubiquitous, convenient, and on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable IT and computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned, scaled, and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. It presents very attractive economic advantages, as well as speed, agility, flexibility, infinite elasticity, and a platform for innovation.
Cloud computing types.
Although cloud computing is constantly evolving, it is generally composed of five essential characteristics, three primary service models, and four major deployment models. Learn more about cloud computing here.
Below is some information on the major Cloud computing models or types:
Public Clouds are available to the public by a cloud service provider that hosts and manages the cloud infrastructure. In most cases, Public Cloud providers such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon AWS, and Dropbox own and operate the infrastructure and provide access over the Internet.
With Public Clouds, you benefit from economies of scale, because infrastructure costs are spread across all users or ‘subscribers,’ allowing individual customers to operate on a low-cost, “pay-as-you-go” model. Public Clouds offer the greatest level of efficiency in shared resources; however, they are also more vulnerable than hybrid and private Cloud solutions.
What could be considered one of the major cons of Private Clouds is that your business may share the same infrastructure pool with thousands of other businesses with limited configuration, resources availability, security protections, and no visibility or control over where the infrastructure is located.
Some Public Cloud uses:
- Deployment of standardized workloads and applications with many users (e.g., e-mail, anti-spam and anti-virus solutions)
- Incremental computing or storage capacity (e.g., Customer Relationship Management (CRM): ConnectWise, Salesforce, SugarCRM; Membership and Association Management Systems (AMS): iMis, Gomembers, Personify; Document Management Solutions: NetDocs, iManage, DocStar; Storage: Dropbox, OneDrive, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, etc.)
- Online and digital collaboration tools (e.g. Yammer, Microsoft Office 365® and SharePoint®, Google Apps, Netsuite, Adobe CC, etc.)
- Deployment of non-compliant and non-resource intensive Websites and Web applications
- Application development and testing
The Private Cloud is a cloud infrastructure dedicated to your particular organization, and it allows you to host applications in the Cloud while addressing concerns regarding data security, control, and compliance. In a Private Cloud, your data and workflow is not shared with other organizations, can be hosted internally or externally, and can be managed internally or externally by a third-party IT services partner such as Hilltop.
There are two variations of Private Clouds:
- On-Premise Private Clouds: A cloud (or clouds) hosted within your own facility. Your IT team and department incur the capital and operational costs for the physical resources with this model. On-premise Private Clouds are mostly used for applications that require complete control and configurability of the entire infrastructure and security.
- Externally Hosted Private Clouds: Externally hosted Private Clouds reside on cloud infrastructure from a third-party service provider. The service provider facilitates an exclusive cloud environment with the full guarantee of privacy, and a much higher level of configurability and manageability. Private Clouds are recommended if you prefer not to use a Public or Hybrid Cloud infrastructure due to the risks associated with data security and compliance when sharing physical resources.
Building and managing Private Clouds require a significant level of technical expertise, and will also require you to evaluate decisions in regards to existing resources, virtualization approaches, and more. Private Clouds are also a more expensive investment than other cloud models, but offer the greatest level of security and control.
Hybrid Cloud is the combined architecture of two or more clouds (private, community, or public) that remain unique entities but are bound together, offering the advantages of multiple deployment models.
In a Hybrid Cloud, you can leverage third-party cloud service providers in either a full or partial manner; increasing your computing flexibility. Augmenting your private cloud with the resources of a public cloud has many uses, such as managing any unexpected surges in workload or performing on-the-fly incremental or decremented capacity modifications in a more controlled and cost effective way.
Hybrid Clouds require both on- and off-premise cloud infrastructure and resources. Spreading your data and applications over a hybrid cloud infrastructure enables you to keep each aspect of your business technology in the most efficient environment. However, one of the major downsides is keeping track of multiple clouds and security platforms, while ensuring that all aspects of your business technology can communicate seamlessly with each other.
Some Hybrid Cloud uses:
- You want to use a Software as a Service (SaaS) application but are concerned about security and compliance.
- You offer services that are tailored for different markets, and are considering using a Public Cloud to interact with the clients, but keep their data secured within a private Cloud environment.
- You need a Public Cloud solution for your customers while using a Private Cloud for internal IT.
- You want to manage or balance infrastructure costs, and want to use your Public or Community Cloud as a short-term resource or testing pool before implementing on your more expensive Private Cloud.
A Community Cloud is what we call a ‘multi-tenant’ cloud service model, and its resources are shared among several businesses. Community Clouds are typically governed, managed, and secured commonly by all the participating organizations or an industry/vertical specific third-party Managed Service Provider.
Community Clouds are essentially a hybrid form of Private Clouds built and operated specifically for a targeted group. These communities have similar resources and computing requirements and use the Community Cloud model to realize the benefits of a Public Cloud solution, with the added level of privacy, security, and compliance typically associated with a Private Cloud solution. Like Private Clouds, Community Clouds can be either on- or off-premise.
Which Cloud model is right for my organization?
Choosing the right Cloud model(s) for your business requires careful assessment, strategy, and planning before any concrete decisions can be made.
As a leading Managed IT Services Provider (MSP) that has delivered expert cloud strategy, management, and support for small businesses and enterprises for over decade, Hilltop Consultants can help you choose and deploy the right cloud computing model(s) to adopt for your business IT needs today and in the future.
Our team of certified cloud computing experts and strategists take the time learn your business strategy and objectives and their relationship to your business technology. We then guide and assist you with choosing the best cloud strategy, as well as help you with cloud builds and deployments, cloud migrations, cloud management, cloud security, cloud applications, tools and much more!