Microsoft states that cloud computing is the delivery of computing services including servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics and intelligence, over the internet (“the cloud”) to offer faster innovation, flexible resources and economies of scale.
Yes, very. We are an approved Microsoft Cloud Solutions provider and take advantage of Microsoft Azure cloud services. Microsoft Azure uses a defence-in-depth security strategy which incorporates services such as AI driven intelligent threat protection, advanced user identity verification, a unified security control centre and more. Microsoft also take a strong approach to physical security at their data centres, employ over 3,500 cyber security experts, and invest over $1 billion dollars a year in cyber security research.
No, you can move as much or as little over as you want. We offer our customers hybrid and multi-cloud solutions which combines both public cloud and on-premises infrastructure, including private cloud, by allowing data and applications to be shared between them. This gives you more deployment options and greater flexibility to scale computing resources and take advantage of cloud innovation, whilst offering interoperability with your on-premises environment.
Yes and no. A Gartner report states that “cloud services can initially be more expensive than running on-premises data centres. [However, it also proves that] cloud services can become more cost-effective over time if organisations learn to use and operate them more efficiently. “
Put simply, the up-front investment may be larger than if you set up your infrastructure using on-premises solutions, but over the course of it’s lifecycle cloud computing provides a lot more value for money.
The time it takes to migrate your infrastructure into the cloud can vary greatly depending on how large or complex your current infrastructure is. If you are moving a single server with no integrated services over to the cloud, you can expect this to take less than a week, maybe even a couple of days.
If you are moving more complex but commonly used systems such as email, communications and document management systems, you can probably expect your migration to last a couple of months. A similar timeframe can be expected when moving more complex server setups and configuring your data centre and networks in the cloud.
If you are migrating a large data-centre and corporate infrastructure, you will need to reconfigure all of your applications for cloud integration and move each and every one of them over individually, which could realistically take a couple of years! On the plus side though, every time you migrate an asset to the cloud, that’s one less server you have to run on-premises.
The first big one that we always face is the initial investment and ongoing cost management. For the most part moving to the cloud can save your business a lot of money. Cloud computing enables you to scale up the processing capabilities of your servers and applications without having the huge expense of buying new kit as you would if you were using on-premise servers. In order to make this more cost effective, most business choose to adopt a pay-as-you-go model which allows your cloud provider to simply charge you according to what you use. However, the scalable and on-demand nature of cloud computing can sometimes make it difficult to predict your monthly costs and how much data you are going to consume.
Another challenge that businesses often face is the migration itself. As we mentioned in the previous question, the timescale in which your migration is completed can vary greatly, from a couple of days to a couple of years and could involve re-configuring applications and moving over data itself could take a very long time. A survey conducted by Velostrata showed that over 95% of companies are currently migrating their applications to the cloud, and over half of them find it more difficult than expected with projects going over budget and deadlines being missed. However, if you have a cloud provider with enough expertise and resources, you will likely find the migration smooth and easy.
Yes, 1000 times over! Whilst migrating to the cloud may carry a large up-front cost, the benefits and the ongoing cost savings will far outweigh the initial investment. By removing the need to store servers on-premises you are freeing up space in your office, reducing your energy costs, doing your bit for the environment, removing the need to pay for new hardware each time you need more power or resources, reducing the cost of maintaining your servers, increasing your protection from cyber-attacks and making it much easier to scale your resources according to your needs.
Now that you’ve decided to give cloud a go, you’ll need to choose which cloud service model you would like to deploy it in. There are 4 types of cloud services:
- IaaS: Infrastructure as a Service
- SaaS: Software as a Service
- PaaS: Platform as a Service
IaaS is an instant computing infrastructure that is provisioned and managed over the internet. IaaS quickly scales up and down with demand, allowing you to only pay for what you use. Each resource is offered as a separate service component and you only need to rent a particular component for as long as you need it.
SaaS allows users to connect to and use cloud-based apps over the internet. Common examples are email, calendaring and office tools such as Microsoft 365. SaaS provides a full software solution on a pay-as-you-go basis from your cloud service provider. You rent the use of an app for your organisations and your users connect to it over the internet.
PaaS is a complete development and deployment environment in the cloud, with resources that enable you to deliver everything from simple cloud based apps to complex cloud-enabled enterprise applications. Like IaaS, PaaS includes infrastructure (servers, storage and networking, as well as middleware, development tools, BI services, database management systems and more. PaaS is designed to support the complete web application life cycle.
Serverless computing enables developers to build applications faster by eliminating the need for them to manage infrastructure. With serverless applications, the cloud service provider automatically provisions, scales and manages the infrastructure required to run the code.
There are three different ways to deploy cloud services: on a public cloud, private cloud or hybrid cloud. Which deployment method depends on your business needs.
Public clouds are the most common type of cloud deployment. The cloud resources are owned and operated by a third-party cloud service provider and delivered over the internet. In a public cloud environment, all hardware, software and other infrastructure is owned and managed by the cloud service provider. The advantage of public clouds are lower costs, no maintenance (your cloud solutions provider does this for you), almost unlimited scalability and high reliability.
Private clouds consist of computer resources that are used exclusively by one business or organisation. The private cloud can be physically located at your on-site data centre, or it can be hosted by a third party service provider. Unlike public cloud, your services and infrastructure are always maintained on a private network and the hardware and software are dedicated exclusively to your organisation. Advantages of a private cloud include increased flexibility, more control and more scalability.
A hybrid cloud combines on-premises infrastructure (private cloud), with public cloud. Hybrid clouds allow data and apps to communicate and move between these two environments. Many organisations choose a hybrid approach in order to meet regulatory requirements and data sovereignty requirements. Benefits of hybrid cloud environments include increased control thanks to the private cloud element, the flexibility of public cloud, the cost effectiveness of public cloud and the ability to phase over your workloads gradually without having to worry about the headache associated with full migrations.
Not particularly. Whilst the term “Vendor lock-in” is thrown about, it’s really not as difficult to switch to a new provider as some say. Most of the time, the vendors can communicate with each other to co-ordinate your switch by setting up a duplicate environment on the new provider’s cloud, and then your new provider would make sure everything is configured exactly the same way before switching on your new environment (usually out of hours) and asking your old vendor to switch off their version. This is of course an over-simplification and there is a lot of admin and back end work to be done before we get to this stage, but you get the general idea. Depending on who your new supplier is, they should do all of the work for you so that you don’t have to worry about anything and can get on with your normal business activities.