Welcome to the Cloud Era for Enterprise

Posted by Steve Knutson on October 1, 2013

Do you remember when the cloud was only something in the sky?  We’ve been talking about cloud for quite some time in the technology world and it became a buzz word a few years ago. Today, almost everything is happening in the cloud – if you know it or not. It’s changing the landscape.

Welcome to what technologists are calling the “Cloud Era – for Enterprise.”

Since its inception, the cloud has catered to small businesses. But now it’s spreading fast through larger enterprises. Microsoft Office 365 used to make the most sense for organizations with 20 users. Recently, I’ve had more and more medium to large enterprises with 350 or even 1,300 users inquire and implement Microsoft Office 365.

From storage to software to security, cloud services are taking over almost every aspect of technology. I talked about Dropbox, which is a storage structure in the sky, launching a business version earlier this blog. VMWare is even building a cloud version to compete against the Google Drive.

The challenge I see is that few organizations recognize that there are three distinct clouds. While each have their advantages, they also have drawbacks in business. Here’s a primer to help you navigate the clouds in the coming year:

1. Public
A public cloud service provider makes resources like software or data storage available over the internet. Typically the businesses using the resource do not own the resource, but rather share it with other organizations. 

Examples:
 Salesforce, Google, Amazon, Office 365

Advantages:
 Free or low cost to setup, fee based on utilization, shifts capital expense to an operational expense.

Disadvantages: 
Less private, less secure, can be less flexible on the type of hardware used.

2. Private
The private cloud, sometimes called an internal cloud or corporate cloud, follows the hosted solutions model by providing computing architecture to a limited number of people on the corporate network. Enterprises are more likely to look to private clouds for mission critical applications that they own or maintain.

Examples:
 A Company builds or outsources their own data center to be used by their employees. The data center can be on their location or at a hosting facility.

Advantages:
 Flexibility and scale to meet the organization’s specific needs, more control over data, ability to accommodate spikes in demand,  regulated quality of service, operational expense, cost reduction from on premise solutions.

Disadvantages: 
Most costly of the clouds, less economies of scale, some may use older technology than public cloud providers. 

3. Hybrid
The hybrid cloud, sometimes called hybrid IT, is a combination of public cloud and private data center principles. Through this model, an organization manages some resources in-house and has others provided externally in a cloud. 

Examples:
 Medical organizations that demand performance of digital imaging on site but can benefit from operating other applications in the cloud. 

Advantages:
 Scalability and cost-effectiveness of public cloud without exposing mission critical applications to vulnerabilities, ensures connectivity and integration between all applications since not everything works in the cloud, and tighter security around private data. 

Disadvantages: 
Complex data networking, more complex Service Level Agreements, dependence on internal IT infrastructure.

What cloud works for your business? They all have their limitations. The public cloud is the most cost effective. Most organizations find that a hybrid solution is the best fit, allowing them to capture cost reductions without compromising performance.

Topics: Cloud Services