Demystifying The Cloud

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The biggest 2 buzzwords in IT in the last five years are without doubt “The Cloud”. Businesses are using cloud computing at an increasing rate, Gartner research predicts the size of the cloud computing market could reach $150 billion this year.

Cloud Computing has certainly delivered a lot of benefits and efficiencies to business, but as with clouds of the weather variety – not all clouds are the same.

It’s important to understand what “the cloud” means, the various options for cloud computing and the pro’s and con’s of each for business owners.

The different types of cloud services

There are two main types of cloud services

1.  Public Cloud

Public cloud is an infrastructure or software as a service that is open to anyone for a monthly or annual fee.  The best example of this is Amazon Web Services. Public cloud is offered to everyone.  You are accessing infrastructure and software that is shared with other users.  Costs are usually minimal and sometimes non-existent (e.g. gmail mail hosting).  Often the host has access to all your data so privacy is not guaranteed.  There are generally low levels of customisation of infrastructure available to users, however scalability is very easy and affordable.

Software as a service

Software as a Service is the most commonly used form of public cloud computing and refers to software that you subscribe to use that is not hosted on your own servers or computers, but hosted by the software provider and accessed over the internet.  The software typically has low levels of customisation.  Some of the most widely known examples include Google Apps, Salesforce.com, Xero, and Microsoft’s Office 365.  SaaS, can be more cost effective than owning software, can be easy to scale up or down and can also be accessed from anywhere improving efficiency and mobility.  However, over time, it’s not always cheaper.

2. Private cloud

Private cloud is one which the services and infrastructure are maintained on a private network.  The difference between public cloud and private cloud is that the infrastructure is owned and maintained by the user, and not shared with anyone else. Whilst this is often a more expensive option than Public Cloud, privacy of data is possible as is the customisation of infrastructure to the users needs.

Typically most of the businesses that we deal with at Centrix would benefit from using a combination of the various cloud services.

How to maximize your chance of a seamless and beneficial transition

As you can see there’s lots of different options and a cloud solution won’t always be appropriate for your business.  Those businesses who cloud would benefit, need to be clear on the options and what fits best.  To make sure that any transition to the cloud is seamless and delivers real gains it’s you should:

  • Have an expert help you
  • Make sure your cloud provider has the appropriate service levels you need
  • Make sure your cloud provider has a partner or service desk that you can contact
  • Make sure you will be able to access and or get a copy of your data at anytime.
  • Know what your exit strategy is.  Be clear that should a cloud service no longer suit you, you know how you can exit, that you will get your data in a useable state that you can easily export into an alternative platform
  • Ensure that your provider provides written guarantees in the terms.

Cloud can deliver lots of benefits to businesses but you need to make sure your head isn’t stuck in the proverbial clouds when you are looking at cloud solutions.

In fact Centrix has experience first hand with clients who have wanted to move their IT platforms from expensive cloud computing options but have been forced to stay subscribed to services that no longer suit them.

With Sydney-wide IT services available,  Centrix is happy to offer an obligation free consultation should you want to learn more about the right cloud computing options for your business.