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Guide | February 03, 2021

Explore Cloud Computing and How It Can Grow Your Business

With the rise of the global pandemic, decision-makers worldwide have ramped up their digital transformation budget for the ultimate competitive advantage. This emerging trend has been driving cloud computing forward as the key differentiation transforming the modern workplace and business process. However, there are still divided opinions about the technology that makes enterprises hesitate in digitization with the cloud.

Now let’s get to know the basics of cloud computing and clarify which deal it should bring about for your business. With an objective view of the technology, we hope to help you partly decide your transformation process’s next movement.

1. What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud is a computer system resource where servers, networks, storage, development tools, and even applications (apps) are enabled through the internet. It could be described as a massive data center available to many users at the same time. Rather than owning their own substantial physical infrastructure, enterprises can rent their “space” on the cloud from a cloud provider. And pretty much any service and process that does not involve the need to stay close to the hardware system can now be delivered through the cloud.

You can imagine those video games in the 1980s-1990s when you had to buy compact disks to play with the CD players. However, thanks to cloud computing, the game’s data, including graphics, content, sounds, movements, rules, and even payment, are now all available on a specific website or application, and you can access it anytime with an internet connection. Moreover, the game directly can connect your team players anywhere in the world instead of waiting for your friends to arrive at your home to start the fun.

First appearing at the beginning of the 2000s, it is only less than ten years ago that cloud computing became popular with the rise of mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc. The technology has five key characteristics that make the dream of a truly connected world possible and enable any ideas to reach a massive global audience.

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  • Internet Access: On a public cloud, users can access all they need with a proper internet connection anywhere in the world at any time.
  • Pay-As-You-Go Service: Previously, cloud computing was costly with all the complex infrastructures and enormous resources needed to maintain the whole system. However, thanks to specialized cloud service providers, the cost to retain your own cloud space is now manageable. The price book for cloud computing varies according to users’ requirements, and you only need to pay for the amount of cloud you use.
  • On-Demand Self-Service: Any service in the cloud can be requested anytime and anywhere without the need for a manual setup or configuration.
  • Shared Pool: Cloud often uses the multi-tenancy model. This means a single application is shared among several users. Therefore, rather than creating a duplicate of the application for each user, several users can configure the application to their specific needs.
  • Rapid Scalability: Cloud systems are adjustable. A company can scale up and down its resource use levels rapidly and efficiently as needs change.

2. Types of Cloud Computing and Service

Cloud has been continuously evolving to adapt to the requirements of specific businesses. Not only does it vary based on the deploying method but also the services provided. Therefore, it is necessary for enterprises to consider both factors when implementing cloud computing. Now let’s find out how they work and the way it influences your business.

a. Deployment Models

Choosing which deployment model to go with is an important decision in switch to a cloud architecture. Yet it isn’t always exactly clear what the differences between them are. To help you understand what makes each deployment model unique, we’ve put together this guide that explains, in a nutshell, what each model offers.

Public Cloud

A public cloud is a type of computing in which a service provider makes resources available to the public via the internet. Resources vary by provider but may include storage capabilities, applications, or virtual machines. A public cloud is operated for many organizations sharing the same infrastructure. The world’s major cloud service providers are Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform.

The public cloud is the more commonly used form of cloud computing. It’s essentially a server that shares resources between several different customers. As such, public cloud environments can be perfect for smaller businesses or those organizations that are just looking into the prospect of cloud computing and want to see how it can potentially benefit them. The public cloud can offer enormous infrastructure resources at no start-up cost and for a simple fee.

Of course, there are downsides to the public cloud. One may be the security and privacy issues. It is sometimes believed that because the cloud is shared, it cannot be secure. But this does not have to be the case at all.

Private Cloud

Private cloud is a computing model that offers a proprietary environment dedicated to a single business entity. As with other types of cloud computing environments, private cloud provides extended, virtualized computing resources via physical components stored on-premises or at a vendor’s datacenter. The prominent benefits organizations can attain by running their IT systems in a private cloud environment are flexibility, guaranteed resource availability, robust security, and regulatory compliance.

Private cloud services are ideal for a variety of organizations, from the enterprise level organization in need of vast amounts of data storage to government organizations that require a secure environment in which to carry out sensitive tasks. In fact, many organizations such as financial organizations, schools, corporations, government agencies, healthcare providers, and more use private cloud networks either by the requirement of law or because of the security it allows them to offer their customers.

Hybrid Cloud

Hybrid cloud is IT infrastructure that connects at least one public cloud and at least one private cloud and provides orchestration, management, and application portability between them to create a single, flexible, optimal cloud infrastructure for running a company’s computing workloads. Meanwhile, hybrid multi-cloud is a hybrid cloud infrastructure that includes more than one public cloud from more than one cloud service provider. 

Hybrid cloud enables companies to combine best-of-breed cloud services and functionality from multiple cloud computing vendors, choose the optimal cloud computing environment for each workload, and move workloads freely between public and private cloud as circumstances change. These outstanding characteristics help a company achieve its technical and business objectives more effectively and cost-efficiently than public cloud or private cloud alone.

b. Service Models

There are three service models of cloud computing, including Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, and Software as a Service. Each of these models covers a particular requirement of a digitized organization and serves different groups of users. Moreover, it provides different control, security, and scalability. The graph below shows the stack of the Service Model, from which we can see the role of each service.

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Software as a Service (SaaS)

Software-as-a-Service is a licensing model in which access to an application is provided to the customer or client on a subscription basis. A third-party vendor controls access and takes responsibility for security, maintenance, and feature upgrades. The software is located on external servers rather than on servers located in-house and is generally accessed with a web browser over the internet.

While the source code for the SaaS applications is owned and maintained by the vendor, the data going into, and being generated by SaaS applications, is generally the responsibility of the customer or client. The data may be stored locally, in the cloud, or some combination of both.

SaaS applications are provided over the internet, which can spell trouble if a user does not have internet access. It also means they are universally compatible with any operating system and not dependent on any specific type of hardware. SaaS also alleviates the need to have dedicated IT personnel on staff who are responsible for installing, configuring, maintaining, and troubleshooting the software.

In the same vein, SaaS applications typically offer less customization than on-premises software offers. Other drawbacks to SaaS include security, ownership/control of data, and reliability; business operations are dependent on the ASP’s stability and are sometimes subject to their security vulnerabilities and data policies.

SaaS examples: BigCommerce, Google Apps, Salesforce, Dropbox, MailChimp, ZenDesk, DocuSign, Slack, Hubspot.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Platform as a Service, or PaaS, is a model of cloud computing that allows applications to be delivered through the internet. A PaaS provider will have all the equipment needed for application development, including the hardware, middleware (databases, web servers, etc.), and software, offering it as a service to its users. It is hosted on the provider’s own infrastructure, and users manage the applications. This allows applications to be developed and deployed cost-effectively because the provider takes care of the operating systems, virtualization, storage, networking, and platform software itself.

PaaS is ideal for businesses that are experiencing rapid growth, have sudden and dramatic spikes in computing requirements, don’t have the required skills in-house, or simply prefer not to manage the IT infrastructure internally.

By passing responsibility to the Cloud Service Provider (CSP), you can benefit from that provider’s facilities, resources, and expertise. Since they are an expert in managing IT infrastructure and environments and have invested heavily in data centers, data backup, and failover facilities, network, servers and virtualization technology, and their staff, facilities and resources are committed to the task of keeping their platform up-to-date in order to secure competitive advantage; your CSP will be in the best possible position to ensure and deliver maximum uptime and availability for your company’s IT operations.

AzureStack, Apprenda, Pivotal CF, and Red Hat Openshift are all providers of Platform as a Service.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is described as an automated and digital computing infrastructure managed over the internet and provided by a third-party. It includes facilities like storage, servers, operating systems, middleware, applications, security, etc. The more the world becomes digitized, and organizations move towards an automated business structure, the more Cloud computing advances as a technology. With enterprises always competing in being progressive and being more technologically advanced, Cloud computing modules such as IaaS are being integrated quickly. Companies have a more challenging time if they install physical servers, data centers, and other resources, while IaaS allows for scalability, affordability, and efficiency.

IaaS is for those who require control over the infrastructure or the underlying hardware and software of the app they are building and whoever needs increased security and higher customization.

Top IaaS providers are AWS, Google Cloud Platform, Azure, etc.

3. How Specifically can Cloud Help Your Business?

Yes, cloud computing is the most vital innovation to enterprises in the age of digital transformation. And it does help businesses expand and grow their potentiality regardless of their size and capabilities. But what business factors are going to grow and develop with cloud computing? How does that help enterprise specifically?

a. Boost Productivity

From sales operations, account management, financial planning to marketing optimization, multiple aspects of your business can be streamlined using cloud computing. Enterprises can automate routine tasks like email marketing, quickly access shared documents, project management tools, human resources management platforms online.

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Streamlining simple and repeated operations enables your business to spend more time focusing on business planning. Moreover, cloud computing helps remote working available anywhere at any time using specified software and applications. This provides more flexibility for employees, improves efficiency, ensuring your business never misses a sales inquiry and makes collaborations and communication earlier.

b. Enhance Scalability

As a business grows, it needs more room for storage of data and documentation. Therefore, cloud computing provides you with enough flexibility to resize your infrastructure on demand. Instead of waiting months to invest in hardware centers, the cloud offers primary resources in a few minutes. Businesses can either scale up or down their capability based on their own present workload with limited investment risk or delay in the system.

c. Improve Customer Experience

Satisfied customers mean business growth. In addition to traditional metrics like product quality value and customer service, cloud computing allows businesses to track, analyze, manage and improve their internal processes to understand and even predict customers’ behaviors. This includes managing feedbacks, personalizing the experience, and building a customer loyalty program. By using online tools to better understand users and their journey in the sales cycle, enterprises can better strategize and grow their business.

d. Secure Data Storage

Several revolutionary companies now store their data in the cloud. While concerns over the safety of data have been raised recently, a Gartner report has pointed out that up to 95% of cloud breaches were due to human errors such as configuration mistakes, and the worrying trend is expected to continue.

Cloud security measures are usually many times more dynamic than those of unspecialized companies that run on their own on-premise backup storage servers.

When dealing with data that can be accessed across the entire world, capable cloud providers are rigorous in securing their systems. They shall have the whole detailed process, regulations, along with the highly-secured infrastructure to ensure data security.

Contact us now to drive digital transformation forward faster with a secure cloud computing strategy tailored to your business needs.

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