Over the past several years, conversations around cloud computing have shifted from “why cloud?” to “how can we best implement cloud?” As cloud computing continues to mature, organizations will move away from the “one size fits all” approach and leverage customized cloud solutions becoming more competitive and agile in adapting to the new way of working.
Customizable Cloud Model
No two businesses are exactly alike, each coming with its own set of unique challenges and opportunities. Why is it then that so many businesses accept a cookie cutter cloud model? Often times, businesses do it under the guise it will save them time and/or money. However in reality, a blanket cloud or infrastructure strategy can leave businesses restricted to the confines of the predetermined system, which ultimately costs more in the long run as their needs evolve.
IT decision makers should seek a customizable cloud model to meet their unique business needs and challenges. In order to do so, it is important to first understand the intricacies of each cloud model to decide if a private, public, or hybrid cloud strategy will yield the greatest benefits for an organization.
A private cloud model enables corporate IT departments to deploy infrastructure within the enterprise datacenter and extend a suite of cloud services to their endusers. An increasingly popular alternative to on premise private cloud comes in the form of a “hosted” private cloud in which an IT department opts to deploy a private cloud with a third-party hosting provider. In many cases, however, on premise private cloud continues to persevere as businesses have large existing investments in technology, people, and processes that cannot be shifted easily.
The private cloud model is not as agile as the public or hybrid models, but for many highly regulated industries, it continues to make sense. With a private cloud, data residency — or where the data and infrastructure physically resides — is determined by the enterprise. This makes private clouds prevalent among government agencies and highly regulated industries such as financial services that must guarantee data residency.
A great example of the benefits of a hosted private cloud model is our work with a private university on the East coast as its tape backup storage infrastructure was no longer viable in the face of growing data storage demands. The university wanted to shift to a cloud based storage model to improve cost, reliability, and agility. The university experienced a smooth transition to our offsite, cloud-based storage solution as well as increased agility in managing and accessing data. NaviSite’s data center provides the power and environmental conditions required to maintain high data availability and to ensure uninterrupted performance for students and faculty.
Scale On Demand with Public Cloud and Virtual Private Cloud
To implement a public cloud model, a business will utilize an open, shared set of resources, such as a managed cloud third-party service provider to store/run applications and data virtually. Similarly, many managed cloud service providers also offer a virtual private cloud model which provides the benefits of multitenancy but with some dedicated components permitted. Both services are typically very elastic and scalable, enabling a business to tap significant resources on-demand in a relatively cost effective manner vs. building their own environments to accommodate maximum usage.
Our work with a non-profit association in New York is a great example of how public and virtual private cloud solutions can help improve reliability and performance of IT systems. This association prides itself on delivering top-notch service for its customers anytime, anywhere, which means keeping technology running reliably is imperative to business. The non-profit made a host of fundamental changes to simplify its network infrastructure and make it easier to troubleshoot and resolve issues, including moving its data and infrastructure servers to NaviSite’s infrastructure that is deployed as multiple, secure infrastructure clouds in our data centers.
However, this model is not for everyone. Common drawbacks associated with many public cloud services are concerns with limited service-level agreements (SLAs) around tenancy, isolation, and performance. In some instances, public cloud solutions are viewed as less reliable and more apt to result in inconvenient outages. Looking at a virtual private cloud solution instead of pure public can address many of these concerns or a more “hybrid” approach may be best.
Hybrid Cloud Offers Best of Both Worlds
“Hybrid cloud” refers to the use of both public and private cloud (or physical and virtual infrastructure) where a business decides the most appropriate “cloud” to support specific IT workloads. In fact, unless your IT is 100% physical infrastructure or 100% cloud, you are a “hybrid.” And if that is not the case for your organization now, it likely will be in the future. By 2017, the research firm Gartner predicts that half of mainstream enterprises will have a hybrid infrastructure.
This hybrid model enables IT departments to more effectively address the disparate needs of their user communities without many of the risks associated with the most common public cloud services. As with most technology adoption curves, businesses ultimately prefer a pragmatic approach that provides them the confidence to migrate production environments to this new model. Historically, hybrid has been viewed as somewhat complex as it is necessary to seamlessly merge multiple environments; however technology maturation is mitigating these challenges.
As businesses move away from an “either /or” model, a hybrid strategy maximizes the benefits that both have to offer: the control and easy access of an on premises/private cloud solution with the convenience, scalability, performance, cost, mobility, and collaboration benefits of a solution managed by a multitenant or virtual public cloud provider.
With this approach, organizations have the option of scaling resources for each workload and choosing the best application for the job. Applications can run on whichever platform is best suited for that workload: a highly dynamic app with unknown spikes may be best supported in the public cloud while a performance-intensive application may be better off in a private cloud or even remain running on traditional physical infrastructure. Data can be located where regulatory or security requirements dictate.
A government agency turned to a leading engineering solutions provider in the UK to deliver an innovative solution that would comply with complex UK legislation requiring highways authorities, structure owners, and the police to be notified of vehicles and their loads exceeding standard dimensions. The solutions provider developed the Electronic Service Delivery for Abnormal Loads (ESDAL), hosted on NaviSite’s hybrid cloud model, to deliver this service. Our hybrid cloud solution hosts the application and provides a reliable, robust, and secure platform for SaaS delivery. This solution delivered significant cost and flexibility benefits while ensuring that the data remained secure and that the platform could offer a robust SLA with data secured in the UK.
Customized Cloud Enables Agile Business
As businesses look to take advantage of cloud benefits while still gaining value from existing technology investments, it will become more important for organizations to deploy an individualized, custom cloud solution to ensure their cloud strategy will enable them to stay competitive and agile to adapt to the new way of working.