What is the Cloud?
History of the Cloud
The cloud is nothing new. It has been in existence in one form or another for many years. It originated as a hosting model where an application developer would host web applications or web services on their server. They managed the server and performed all backups and maintenance related to the hardware and software.
Vendor Definitions of the cloud
As faster Internet connections emerged, many application vendors renamed their offerings from “Hosted” to a “Cloud” solution. As the term “The Cloud” emerged in the industry, “Cloud” became many things to many people. Depending on which vendor you spoke to, their cloud offering ended up as a slightly different concept compared to others in the industry. There was not (and still not) a governing body that defined that “The Cloud” really meant.
Currently, the accepted definition of the “The Cloud” is that the entire application and underlying hardware is a system and is provided by the vendor as a service offering. This is usually priced on a pay-as-you-go monthly basis. As a user, a remote connection is made to the vendor or the application is provided as a web service through the web browser.
Benefits of using Cloud Services
A “Cloud” service offering does have some benefits. Most vendors provide some or all of the following:
- No upfront capital expense for hardware or software
- Pay-as-you-go payment model
- Monthly payments
- Can stop anytime with no future commitment
- No major internal infrastructure is needed
- Backups are part of the service
- Upgrades are invisible to the user and are included as part of the cloud service offering
- Server and application maintenance are included and are performed by the vendor
- Data is private and is “siloed”, meaning only you can see your data
Does the cloud have any drawbacks?
Some drawbacks to moving your entire infrastructure to a cloud-based service are as follows:
- The single point of failure is the Internet connection (this is remedied with redundant or dual Internet connections)
- Data format is proprietary
- Data is not easily retrievable in the event of changing cloud providers
- Support tends to be through email only, which introduced some unwanted delay when resolving issues
- Security is outsourced to the vendor, potentially conflicting with organizational security requirements
- Preventing data breaches are entirely the responsibility of the vendor
Some vendors, such as Microsoft, offer a hybrid solution, which allows their customers to have an on-premise infrastructure and a cloud infrastructure, working together.
“Cloud” service offerings do have a place in today’s business world. While not for every organization, “cloud” offerings can provide flexibility for some business applications. It will not necessarily be a perfect fit for all situations, but it can enable companies and organizations to be more dynamic.
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Are you ready for the cloud?
If you would like to learn more about Cloud services, contact Southern Networks today to talk to one of our experts.