Cloud Computing 101: How To Improve Your Business In The Cloud
This article is for those of you who understand that your business needs to be in the cloud, but have no idea what the cloud is or what that process entails. You have heard the buzzwords at work and during conferences, such as “cloud migration,” “roadmap,” and “cloud services” but it still seems like fluff and inside talk rather than a tangible concept which can be grasped and utilized. Don’t be too overwhelmed by all the new jargon and ideas, as you are not alone in not fully understanding the uses and ramifications of cloud migration and computing. While many people are throwing around popular words and phrases, few of them have a complete grasp of cloud computing and what it can do for them.
So, let’s start at the basics and get a quick overview of cloud computing and cloud migration and get you up to speed.
An Overview of Cloud Computing
As a big picture, think of cloud computing as the ultimate network for your business. Instead of having a physical center where your data and equipment is located, cloud computing takes advantage of the internet to allow your company to access data on the fly and can be immediately synchronized with other applications.
Cloud Computing Structure
The architecture of a cloud computing environment is comprised of the following components:
- Front-end Devices– individual users can access the cloud using their own devices (laptop, desktop, tablet, etc.)
- Back-end Platform– a variety of computers, virtual machines, servers, and other central devices combine together to represent the platform
- Cloud-based Delivery– in lieu of a physical work area, data management, communications, analysis, and transactions occur in the cloud
- Network– rather than an actual network of machines, cables, and connections, everything works online, reducing potential physical problems like power outages or tripped cords being pulled out
Businesses utilizing cloud services can access one or more of the following types of clouds:
- Public– offered by a service provider, this type of cloud is available to the general public and are accessed through the internet by user; for example, both Microsoft and Google offer popular public cloud services
- Private– dedicated to specific groups or organizations, which use it to store data, host applications, and other services; the cloud may be internally managed, or the company may opt to use third-party cloud services
- Hybrid– some situations occur where a hybrid cloud binds together advantages of public and private clouds in one service; sensitive data is hosted in the private sector of the cloud, while public clouds allow users to non-sensitive data and applications
There are multiple ways in which businesses are benefiting from the use of cloud services, such as:
- Scalability– resources can be dynamically allocated or de-allocated as needed, offering on-demand service and efficiency
- Reduced Infrastructure– less money needs to be invested into capital infrastructures
- User Autonomy– giving users access anywhere at any time is a huge advantage for agile business practices
- Simplified Networks– clients can access the network without the necessity of buying licenses for individual machines
- Improved Data Security– using cloud storage proves to be the most secure method of preserving important and sensitive data
Cloud Service Categories
There are three main cloud service categories businesses may use in their own cloud:
- Software as a Service (SaaS)– with SaaS, the service provider delivers hardware infrastructure and software applications, usually hosted by web browser, hosted desktop, or remote client
- Platform as a Service (PaaS)– developers use PaaS to access software and program development tools, and then create and deploy their own software solutions onto a cloud platform
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)– businesses seeking specialty services such as firewalls look to service providers offering storage and network components in the form of IaaS services
Now that you have a simplified outline of cloud computing, let’s talk about how cloud migration is employed.
Explaining Cloud Migration
Think of the process of cloud migration as the method of relocating everything your organization will need to operate on the cloud. This can include applications, data, and workloads, but few organizations perform a mass transfer of all their computing assets to their cloud. Before performing a cloud migration, you need to determine which applications and services may be best served by remaining on the physical premises.
Cloud Migration Tools
In a perfect world, you could simply transfer data and applications over to your new cloud solution, flip on the switch, and you’re back in business. However, in the word of technology, nothing is ever perfect, nor does anything remain static. (This, by the way, points to another critical reason you need to be on the cloud; your ability to remain current with software and hardware updates is boosted significantly through cloud services, where it happens without delay in real time.)
The three major cloud migration tools you will encounter are:
- SaaS– mentioned above in the Software Service categories, SaaS tools reside in the cloud and can create links to reliably and securely transfer data; they are typically automated and easy to use
- Open Source– there is never a shortage of open source tools, much of it free, which can be customized to meet your particular demands; of course, programming expertise and a learning curve are required to accomplish your goal
- Batch Processing– popular since the days of the mainframes, the proper batch processing tools can be geared to transfer large volumes of data; because of this feature, it is usually run after work hours to avoid network traffic congestion
Developing Your Cloud Migration Strategy
As you can see, many elements need to be factored in when developing your own cloud migration strategy. Some migration tasks are one-time processes which help your move your system to a cloud application, while other tasks fulfill ongoing business needs.
During this stage, there are three main tasks which must be developed and integrated for a successful cloud migration implementation:
- Build Your Migration Strategy– this includes setting goals, creating timelines, having a clear definition of a successful migration process, and anticipating any challenges, such as complying with regulations and encrypting sensitive or valuable data
- Plan Your Migration Stages– building a step-by-step approach for accomplishing the strategy defined in the first step, including factors such as transferring workloads and determining the best migrations sequences, is essential for a smooth, successful migration
- Create a Migration Checklist– whether you build a broad and general checklist, or prefer to tick off each detail, knowing where you are by tracking results and completed tasks is crucial for an easy transition
While you can see cloud migration is not a simple process, when you work with experts who know the ins and outs of cloud computing and migration, you will find it easier than you imagined.
Caserta can help move you to the cloud and, in the process, increase the efficiency and profitability of your enterprise. Contact us today so you can begin your cloud migration without any further delay!