What does a comprehensive cloud service look like?

When it comes to IT, there are a lot of different options out there. But one thing that most people seem to agree on is that cloud computing is the way forward. From accounting to delivering services, thousands of businesses are moving to a complete cloud solution. For the first time user moving into the cloud, it can be difficult to know what you need, and what the best options are.

So we’ve put together a beginner’s guide to cloud services. Here, we detail what you should look out for in a comprehensive cloud service.

Would You Rather Buy Or Rent A Car?

This subheading may sound odd but bear with us, because this is a situation a lot of people find themselves in and can relate to. When you need to get around, would you rather buy a car, or rent one? After all, there are pros and cons to both approaches.

Buy: When you buy a car, you’re making a pretty hefty investment, even if you opt for finance. And it’s not just the initial cost of the actual car – you’ve also got ongoing maintenance costs like tax, MOT and servicing to consider. But with that investment comes complete control over what you walk away with. You can customise the car any way you like, and you have a choice in almost everything. It can be a bit of a hassle, but the result is all down to you.

Rent: What about just renting a car when you need one? It’s a lot simpler, and you don’t have to make as many decisions. You select from what’s available and drive it away. Rent when you need it, and only pay for what you use. Don’t worry about taxing it, maintaining it or anything else. But let go of all the control you could have, including transport at your disposal, make and model and all those customisations that make it perfect for you.

What does this mean in IT?

Now imagine we’re not talking about a car, but about the IT infrastructure for your business. The same qualities apply. If you buy, you can customise and design it until it’s personalised to your specifications and needs, but you have to invest a fair amount of money up front to set it up.

If you rent those resources, you gain the flexibility to scale up and down when you need to and only pay when you use it, without the big commitment. With cloud computing there is also the ability to customise (to a degree), so you get the best of both worlds. This is what we call a ‘cloud solution’. It is essentially renting all of those expensive IT elements you might not want to buy outright.

The Features Of Cloud Computing

There are a few things that summarise what a comprehensive cloud service would offer a business just like yours:

  • On-Demand Resources: Resources (like extra storage or security) are always available when you need them, usually with a few clicks of a mouse. You have complete control over switching them on, and off, depending on what you need and when.
  • Scalable: Cloud computing allows you to effectively scale the resources you’re using whenever you need to. For example, if you’re a seasonal business then you may need more bandwidth over the Christmas season, but nowhere near as much during the rest of the year. Cloud services give you this flexibility, so you don’t have to pay for that high bandwidth all year.
  • Multi-Tenant: Often your business will be sharing hardware with another ‘tenant’ within the datacentre. This will always be communicated to you. The cloud provider is also responsible for ensuring the security of your data while it’s stored on their resources and ensuring that other tenants can’t access it.
  • Reliability: Because you’re hiring resources from a provider who specialises in them, you are paying for their support systems and security. Cloud service providers are very reliable, with plenty of protections and failovers in place to keep your data safe and running smoothly.
  • Utility-Based Subscription: Most cloud service providers operate on a subscription model – you choose which band of services and resources you want, and you pay a monthly subscription for it. Kind of like paying your electricity bill.

How Does That Look In Your Business?

So what does a comprehensive cloud solution look like in your business? Typically, there are four ways your business can manage IT, with varying degrees of cloud involvement:

On-Premises Environment: In this model, you manage everything. Applications, data, runtime, middleware, O/S, virtualisation, servers, storage and networking – all of it stored and maintained at your physical location. You could even disconnect the whole thing from the internet, and it would still work.

IaaS: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) helps you take care of some components of your IT systems. For example, through an IaaS model, your provider would take care of your O/S, virtualisation, servers, storage and networking, leaving you to manage applications, data, runtime and middleware. You essentially rent a ‘virtual machine’ with the right O/S installed, and build on that yourself. Some examples of this include Amazon Web Service, Rackspace and VMware vCloud.

PaaS: Platform as a Service (or PaaS) is one level up from IaaS. A PaaS provider takes care of all the elements an IaaS provider does, along with the platform level components. These include items that are limited to the platform you’re using, like middleware and runtime. As a result, certain applications, runtime and web servers come pre-installed or managed for you. All you have to do is  focus on is the applications and data. A few examples of this include Google AppEngine and Windows Azure.

SaaS: Software as a Service (or SaaS) is probably the most commonly used cloud computing element, and you’re probably using it right now without even realising it. Many forms of software (like Office 365, various bookkeeping software, Gmail and so on) are all SaaS. The supplier takes care of all the networking and management of the application for you. All you have to do is use it. Combined with a PaaS model, this can leave you to simply use the system.

At Indigo IT, we provide the whole suite of comprehensive cloud services solutions to suit your business. From arranging hosted backups and antivirus to setting up hosted exchange email and even full cloud desktops, we can give your business the tools it needs to succeed. Our cloud services are designed to keep your business on the cutting edge of performance and work with you. If you’d like to know more, get in touch with our team today.