A Beginner’s Guide to the Cloud

5th March 2020

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Do you find that no matter who you’re talking to, you can’t get away from hearing about the cloud? The cloud is everywhere, literally. If you’ve watched videos on YouTube, shared photos on Flickr or files on Dropbox then you are a cloud user.

 

 

But what is the cloud from a business perspective? How can it help? Everything you need to know is here in Elite’s Beginner’s Guide to the Cloud.

What is the cloud?

The cloud, or cloud computing has been around for some time now but only in recent years has its full potential been realised.

Cloud computing is essentially the delivery of computing services – including servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics and intelligence over the internet ‘in the cloud’. Put simply this means that you use the internet to carry out business tasks that you used to perform on your computer; commonly to do with storing and sharing data. The cloud is a vast network made up of many connected servers. This means that when you save files to the cloud, they can be accessed from any computer connected to that cloud’s network.

It’s a good idea to get to know the stats relating to business uptake. It’s predicted that by 2021 cloud datacentres will process 94% of workloads with the global cloud computing market expected to reach $623.3 billion by 2023

There are three primary cloud types:

  • Public cloud refers to services that are delivered across the internet.
  • Private cloud is designed for internal use by a single organisation.
  • Hybrid cloud is when a company uses both a public and a private cloud.

The only difference with the three types of service is who owns the infrastructure. Otherwise, it’s the same thing. There are three main types of services provided by cloud vendors:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS) which are applications accessible by clients via either a web browser or some lightweight applications. Google’s apps (like Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Play) are a perfect example of SaaS, and so are popular website builders like WiX and Squarespace.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a place for application development and testing.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a vast array of computing resources in a virtual environment. IaaS includes data storage, virtualisation, servers, and networking.

There are two categories of cloud services: managed and unmanaged. If you buy an unmanaged cloud service, you require technical expertise as the purchaser of the service is responsible for the setup and maintenance of the cloud. With a managed service, the owner of the cloud service, not the purchaser will provide the technical expertise.

What are the benefits of the cloud as a fully managed service?

  1. Flexibility: Cloud computing offers a great deal of flexibility. Rather than buying software to install on an individual computer – and all the maintenance and upgrades that comes with it – you have access to compute on an Opex on-demand model, meaning that you only pay your cloud service provider for what you use. For this reason, it can be great value for money. It is also easy to scale up and down as required meaning that you can invest more in your network at peak times and reduce it down again when it is not needed.
  2. Productivity: There are many productivity gains to be had with the cloud. Employees can log into the server from any location, enabling remote working and reducing downtime. Organisations can quickly adopt and deploy services precisely as they need them with one click. Cloud computing also removes the need for many tasks relating to hardware and patching, so IT teams are free to spend time on achieving more important business goals.
  3. Secure: Whilst you are essentially handing over control of your data to a third party, workloads in the cloud can benefit from the expertise of your service provider to mitigate risk. This is often far more effective than when it is on your hard drive. Many cloud providers offer a broad set of policies, technologies and controls that strengthen your security posture overall. For example, cloud servers are stored in giant, heavily guarded warehouses with the data encrypted, making it laborious to hack.
  4. Boosts collaboration: Many will fondly remember the good old days of storing data on hard drives and flash devices. The cloud makes it so much easier. You simply upload your data to the cloud where it sits for you to access at anytime from any device. Gone are the days of everyone sharing one version of a document and having to wait until someone has left the file before you can add your updates.
  5. Cost effective: You can store tons of data in the cloud for free. Not to mention the cost savings delivered by removing the need for expensive hardware and the internal resource to manage it. When running your datacentre, the racks of servers and electricity to power and cool them soon add up.

Would you like to discuss the benefits of the cloud further with an expert to know whether it’s worth investing? The cloud is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach; call us for dedicated advice on what configuration would fit with your current infrastructure: 0333 060 9617.