The modern cloud has existed since 2006, with the arrival of Amazon Web Service (AWS) Elastic Compute Cloud as the first market-ready cloud infrastructure service. The year 2020 was the first time enterprises spent more on cloud services than legacy on-premises infrastructure, according to Synergy Research.
As a record number of enterprises invest in their move to the cloud, let’s explore why – and how your business can benefit from cloud adoption.
In simple terms, the cloud allows enterprises to rent IT infrastructure and software services from a data center or service provider. Rather than purchasing server hardware, setting up said hardware in an on-premises data center, and maintaining these servers long-term, the cloud delivers instant access to managed infrastructure and software services.
Three popular cloud-based service models are:
SaaS is the most accessible cloud service model for consumers and enterprise customers. Software services are delivered over the internet via web application, providing functionality to the user without needing to manage the backend infrastructure. Instead, the SaaS vendor hosts and maintains the service through their chosen infrastructure provider in return for a monthly or annual subscription fee from users.
Examples of SaaS include Trianz’s partners Salesforce and Microsoft 365. SaaS models can deliver rapid return-on-investment (ROI) through a shift from capital expenditure (CapEx) to operating expenditure (OpEx)—perfect for small and medium-sized businesses.
PaaS offers more flexibility while still being accessible for enterprises. With this service model, pre-configured IT resources can be deployed and accessed via the cloud. Typically, the operating system (OS), additional software packages, networking, and storage are included ready-for-use. This provides a blank canvas upon which enterprises can build their services. PaaS may include website or application hosting servers, database platforms, storage platforms, and business intelligence (BI) platforms.
PaaS examples include our data storage and warehousing partner Snowflake and serverless computing through the Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) from our partner Microsoft. PaaS allows enterprises to focus on defining and executing workloads, where the PaaS vendor ensures the hardware and software foundation for these workloads is well-maintained and highly available.
IaaS is the least costly cloud service model, but it requires more management than PaaS or SaaS. Enterprises pay for basic computing resources such as virtual CPUs (vCPUs), disk storage, random access memory (RAM), and networking bandwidth. IaaS only provides the hardware, with the enterprise being liable for deploying and maintaining the OS and any software or services that run on this infrastructure.
Examples of IaaS include the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) or Simple Storage Service (S3) from our partner AWS, and the Google Compute Engine (GCE) from our Google Cloud Platform (GCP) partner. IaaS grants unparalleled flexibility, allowing for the creation of entirely custom solutions in the cloud—and at a much lower entry cost than on-premises infrastructure.
Put simply, IaaS offers the same functionality as on-premises servers by providing direct “bare metal” access to remote computing resources.
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Enterprises can use any combination of the above options, with further customization through public, private, hybrid, or multi-cloud deployments:
Public Cloud- The public cloud is a shared computing model where multiple tenants use the same hardware. This maximizes hardware utilization, allowing platform vendors to provide more resource capacity at a lower cost. These cost savings are then passed down to users, but they come with a risk of lower performance and stability.
Private Cloud- The private cloud is a single-tenant cloud model, where enterprises get exclusive access to a server and its hardware. Cloud vendors cannot maximize resource utilization through this model, so the private cloud warrants a higher cost for users. Enterprises can achieve higher performance and stability as they are not competing with other tenants, but they risk overspending during quieter periods for this privilege.
Hybrid and Multi-Cloud- The hybrid-cloud consists of an on-premises IT network that works alongside a cloud network. An enterprise may perform processing on-premises, with data in the cloud to enable storage scaling and cost reductions. The multi-cloud eliminates on-premises infrastructure from the equation, instead using multiple cloud platforms in tandem to maximize performance, value, or a mixture of both.
Cloud computing has revolutionized the way enterprises derive value from data. The elasticity of cloud technology solves workload challenges quickly and efficiently, from anywhere, and through any device.
Across SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS, the cloud offers significant benefits over on-premises IT deployments:
Cloud pay-as-you-go billing involves charging enterprises only for the processing power or storage capacity they use. This PAYG cloud model runs monthly, smoothing cash flow and lowering the cost of entry. Enterprises can opt for longer-term annual contracts to lower costs even further—though vendor lock-in may prevent these companies from getting the best value for their money if competing platforms lower their prices.
With on-premises data centers, the only way to increase processing capacity is by purchasing more server hardware, with significant upfront costs. A combination of PAYG and auto-scaling means enterprises can increase their cloud processing capacity without the staggering upfront costs of hardware acquisition.
If your database is near capacity, auto-scaling will acquire more storage space. If your website hosting server needs more processing power or bandwidth, auto-scaling will increase vCPU and bandwidth allocations. Auto-scaling promotes cloud service availability and performance by scaling up, with resources scaling back down in quieter periods to minimize overspend.
A lone on-premises data center offers little to no redundancy in the event of an IT outage. In comparison, the cloud allows enterprises to decentralize their IT operations, spreading computing resources across multiple geographic locations. Enterprises could opt to clone their IT network to another data center, for example, so that there is one in the Eastern US and one in the West. This would reduce localized latency and increase performance while allowing East Coast users to connect to the West Coast network if an outage occurs. Enterprises can also back up their data using this strategy, expediting disaster recovery processes to minimize risks to business continuity.
The cloud offers robust governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) controls to maximize security. This includes identity access management (IAM) or role-based access controls (RBAC), data encryption upon ingestion, and, during transfer, VPN integration and virtual private cloud (VPC). Across SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS, leading vendors offer security functionality as standard, with supplemental monitoring tools that alert IT personnel to unusual or malicious activity. Examples include Microsoft’s Azure Security Center and the AWS Security Hub.
Moving to the cloud can offer your organization numerous benefits. Businesses are migrating at higher rates than ever to realize high performance and low-cost infrastructure and software service.
They also understand the competitive advantages that the cloud enables, with streamlined access to powerful data that cloud-based analytics products deliver to users throughout the organization. Any company can accelerate innovation and create business value with a move to the cloud; its reputation for being foundational to transformation is well-earned.
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