You read about how cloud computing revolutionizes businesses’ operations everywhere you look. As overused as the expression might be, it happens to be true. Moving to the cloud does revolutionize how you do things. It also opens your business to more and more possibilities as your cloud strategy matures.
A January 6, 2023 Harvard Business Review (HBR) article, points out that: “Last year, many CEOs changed their outlook on cloud computing, essentially going from I’ll do it because that’ what my CIO recommends’ to ‘I want to be all in.’ Companies should focus on building out strong cloud foundations that allow them to take advantage of the most important benefits that cloud provides.”
That’s why Gartner predicts public cloud spending to reach $600 billion this year.
But is a public cloud environment the best way to go for your company?
What is cloud computing? It’s important to remember that not all cloud computing is created equal. In this article, we will explore the different types of cloud computing environments and their benefits to help businesses determine which one best suits their needs, but first, let’s review.
What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing delivers computing services, including servers, storage, databases, software, and other resources over the internet. Instead of owning and maintaining physical hardware and software, users can access these resources remotely through a network of servers.
One of the most significant advantages of the cloud is that it allows small businesses to leverage the latest computing technology at a much lower cost. Cloud computing enables users to access services on-demand, scale up or down as needed, and pay only for what they use without costly hardware and maintenance. Cloud computing has become an increasingly popular technology among businesses of all sizes thanks to its flexibility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness. However, not all cloud computing is created equal. There are different types of cloud environments. Exploring the different types of cloud computing and their benefits will help you determine which one is best suited to your business needs.
The cloud is a collection of web-connected servers and software that can be accessed and used over the internet. This means that you don’t need to host or manage your own hardware and software. Furthermore, you can access these systems from anywhere with internet access. Cloud computing is all around us, from checking our Gmail inbox to watching our favorite shows on Netflix. The emails, video files, and other information we access are located on a server somewhere in the world. Still, we can access them quickly, easily, and inexpensively thanks to modern cloud computing technology.
Public, Private, and Hybrid Cloud
The type of cloud you should deploy for your business depends on several factors, such as the purpose of your cloud environment, regulations governing data storage and transmission, and other considerations. There are three primary deployment models for the cloud: public, private, and hybrid. All three models provide users with any time, anywhere access to files and applications that drive their businesses, but they do so in different ways.
The public cloud is a service offered by third-party providers that use shared infrastructure to provide services such as storage, applications, and computing power. Public clouds are the most cost-effective and flexible option for businesses that require scalable solutions, as they are charged on a pay-per-use basis. Additionally, public clouds offer ease of use, as there is no need for maintenance or upkeep of the infrastructure, and updates are automatically applied.
A private cloud is an infrastructure owned and operated by a single company or organization. Private clouds provide more control and security over data, as they are not shared with other users. Private clouds are often used by businesses that require a higher level of protection, such as financial institutions or government agencies.
Hybrid clouds allow businesses to store sensitive data in a private cloud while taking advantage of the cost-effectiveness and scalability of public clouds for less-sensitive data. A hybrid cloud combines elements of both public and private clouds, allowing businesses to take advantage of both benefits. This model is ideal for companies that require scalability and flexibility but also need to maintain high security and control over their data.
Which type of Cloud is Best for Your Company?
Now that we’ve explored different cloud infrastructures and their unique features, it’s crucial to determine which type of cloud is the best fit for your business. Each business has special needs and considerations, such as budget, security, compliance requirements, and resource constraints.
Take time to evaluate your business needs and choose the type of cloud infrastructure that best aligns with your mid and long-term goals and objectives. Whether you’re a small business or a large enterprise, selecting the correct type of cloud can save you many headaches and sleepless nights. The right cloud helps you streamline your operations, boost efficiency, and stay competitive in an ever-changing business landscape.
Small to Mid-Sized Businesses (SME)
A public cloud is typically the most suitable cloud computing environment for small to mid-sized businesses. Huge third-party cloud service providers operate public clouds and offer services to multiple organizations or individuals over the internet. It resembles an apartment building owner renting out rooms to individual tenants.
Public clouds are cost-effective, as they operate on a pay-as-you-go basis, with no upfront costs or long-term commitments. They are also scalable, meaning businesses can quickly expand their computing resources as their needs grow.
Public clouds also offer a range of services, including infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS), allowing businesses to choose. For example, with these three different types of service, a PaaS solution provides a platform for developers to build, test, and deploy applications without having to worry about underlying infrastructure.
Whereas IaaS provides users with virtualized computing resources such as virtual desktop, storage, and networking, allowing them to build and manage their software applications and systems.
SaaS delivers ready-to-use software apps over the internet. Users don’t have to install and maintain their apps. They just log on and begin working.
Limitations of Public Cloud Computing for Small to Mid-Sized Businesses
Public cloud providers usually have a wide range of security measures to protect against cyber-attacks, which is critical for businesses that must keep their data and systems secure.
Overall, a public cloud can be attractive for small to mid-sized businesses. At least at first glance. But once you look under the hood, there may be a few things to give you pause. For one thing, there is little room for you to control your environment. There is little wiggle room for customizing any aspect of the infrastructure to meet specific needs.
For another, if you expect a speedy resolution to problems, you’ll probably be disappointed. Support and troubleshooting problems can become disruptive if they take a long time to resolve. When submitting trouble tickets to public cloud providers, the response time and support quality vary widely, making it difficult to predict how quickly they can help you resolve issues.
A third and final consideration has to do with compliance. SMEs must often comply with strict regulatory standards, particularly if they work with government contracts. Meeting HIPAA or NIST requirements can be challenging in a public cloud environment.
Large & Enterprise Level Companies
The most suitable cloud computing environment for large and enterprise-level companies is typically a private or hybrid cloud. Single organizations operate private clouds. These cloud service providers host on-premises or in a data center owned and operated by a third-party provider. In the case of IronOrbit, we own and control our data centers.
Private clouds offer greater control over computing resources, allowing organizations to customize their environment to meet their needs. Private cloud providers also can provide better cybersecurity and privacy layers, keeping data within the organization’s system. Hybrid clouds combine public and private cloud environments, allowing organizations to take advantage of the best of both worlds. For example, a private cloud can keep more sensitive data. The public cloud can be the place to store less sensitive data. Hybrid clouds provide the flexibility to scale up or down as needed and offer cost savings by utilizing public cloud resources for non-sensitive data.
Large and enterprise-level companies typically have complex computing needs that require significant resources and high levels of customization. Private and hybrid clouds offer the flexibility, control, and security to meet these needs. However, it is essential to note that private and hybrid clouds require significant infrastructure, expertise, and maintenance investments. Organizations must also have robust security measures to protect against cyber attacks.
Overall, private and hybrid clouds are the most suitable cloud computing environments for large and enterprise-level companies requiring high-level customization, control, and security.
No matter what type of cloud infrastructure a business chooses, moving to the cloud presents an opportunity to reimagine how they do business and the value they bring to their customers. Cloud technology enables firms to be more agile, flexible, and responsive to changing market demands. By leveraging the scalability and flexibility of the cloud, businesses can streamline their operations, improve their customer service, and gain a competitive advantage.
With the cloud, businesses can access new technologies and tools that were once out of reach, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data analytics. This can help businesses better understand their customers, identify trends, and make data-driven decisions. Ultimately, the cloud helps business leaders change their perspective. Some may even have a paradigm shift that dramatically impacts long-term vision and direction.
In a March 10, 2021 article for the Harvard Business Review, Bhaskar Ghosh and Karthik Narain present two clear examples of how moving to the cloud began a paradigm shift in business strategy.
They wrote that Japan’s largest pharmaceutical company, Takeda uses “edge” technology to help hemophiliacs monitor their enzymes at home. Edge
computing complements cloud computing by enabling data processing and analysis closer to the data source, dramatically reducing latency. This level of real-time mission-critical application would not be possible without cloud technology.
The article also introduces us to ENGIE, a French energy company that uses cloud technology to transform itself into a renewable and low-carbon energy provider across 70 countries. By creating a single, unified view of each customer using a PaaS tool, ENGIE can make customer insights accessible across all 24 business units. Here’s a case where a cloud computing platform enables ENGIE to quickly deliver tailor-made solutions for customers, such as its partnership with the University of Iowa to help the school become coal-free by 2025.
“Cloud is too important to a business’s fundamental competitiveness to be treated as an IT program. It’s about creating a platform for the efficiency, innovation, and growth that will determine the future success of your business.”
Bhaskar Ghosh and Karthik Narain,
What CEOs Need to Know About the Cloud in 2021
Understanding the different types of cloud and their benefits can help you determine which cloud deployment model is best suited for your business. Whether you choose public, private, or hybrid cloud, cloud computing can help your business reduce IT headaches, boost productivity, and enhance security, all while leveraging the latest computing technology at a lower cost because you’re not having to re-outfit your IT infrastructure.
But the bottom line is cloud computing, not matter which type of environment you start with, will make all the difference in the sustainability of your company. Companies should develop cloud-first strategies and look towards building cloud economic capabilities, called FinOps. The longer companies delay, the more opportunity they waste to generate value. As the HBR article mentions, “FinOps capabilities can monitor and track spend, determine the unit economics for various cloud usage scenarios, and translate the business’ consumption needs into optimal cloud offerings and pricing arrangements.”
Moving to the cloud is a gateway opportunity for businesses to continually build on technology and nurture the possibilities of creating new digital value propositions for their customers. Beyond the surface-level benefits of increases in scalability and agility, cloud computing provides free-flowing access to new technologies, tools, and resources that help companies innovate and differentiate themselves in their respective markets, which is essential for staying ahead and driving growth. In this way, cloud migration is a foundational step to digital transformation.