Cloud computing has become mainstream. Companies are adopting it because it is scalable and flexible. Businesses can use it in testing and development environments as well as to store, manage and analyze structured and unstructured data. When looking at cloud models a list of questions focused on an organization’s operations, architecture, workflow, security measures, compliance standards, and the mechanisms each Cloud Service provider (CSP) uses to preserve data is key.
Even if not fully on board with the cloud, for example, a company may still employ traditional IT devices on-site, some seventy-seven percent of enterprises have at least one application or a portion of it in the cloud, using more than 1,400 different cloud services.
Sixty percent of organizations use cloud technology to store confidential data, even if they still use on-site IT for other functions. According to Leftronic, 90% of American companies already use some type of cloud service; with 80% employing Amazon Web Services as their primary cloud platform.
Cloud Service Providers
The IBM Cloud and Rackspace are other high-profile providers. Microsoft’s Azure platform involves more than 200 products and cloud services. Microsoft claims 95 percent of Fortune 500 companies utilize Azure to some extent.
The confusing jumble of numbers is just an example of how companies may employ more than one CSP to suit their needs. In addition to their popularity in North America, they are now becoming mainstream in both Eastern and Central Europe and the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
One-third of the companies in these regions already use cloud computing; approximately another 40 percent are strategizing on future cloud use. About the same percentage of Central/Eastern Europe and Sub-Saharan companies with 250 to 1000 employees have adapted cloud computing.
Just as there are many providers of cloud services (CSPs), there are several models from which to choose. The CSP may be public, delivering services across the internet. Or it can be private for internal use within an organization or a hybrid—meaning a combination of the two.
The room full of hardware: servers, computer terminals and monitors are often obsolete soon after being installed due to the constant innovations being released. That means software patches as well. Poor data backup and a lack of disaster recovery options has also made traditional IT less attractive as the demand for increased data storage and security increases.
This has led more organizations to look at what a CSP can provide and the best cloud technology to fit their needs.
There are single cloud users, with a solitary CSP providing any and all services. Then there is the “Multi-cloud” approach, employing more than one computing service from various vendors. Many organizations use this model to manage computing resources, minimizing downtime risk and the loss of data. The environment for computing can be public or private or a combination.
A Microsoft study found that currently 79% of organizations surveyed use a multi-cloud approach, with 29 percent responding that they use four or more different cloud providers. This also increases the power of computing and storage availability. Multi-cloud computing has several benefits—compliance, flexibility, and disaster avoidance.
When outages happen due to human error or unforeseen circumstances, the multi-cloud approach ensures the resources and data storage to avoid significant downtime. The multi-cloud approach has a disadvantage, which is the higher cost of managing it. This model can also risk lower data security since it entails more systems to monitor for possible hacking. Larger organizations, say with more than 10,000 employees, have historically preferred the multi-cloud approach because they typically have so many applications running and use large amounts of data.
The hybrid cloud model
The hybrid model involves a private cloud and more than one public cloud service, facilitating communication between two environments. This model gives businesses flexibility via workload movement between clouds based on demand changes. The hybrid model can facilitate greater control over private business data. This model relies on single plane management, unlike the multi-cloud, where the administrators must manage each cloud separately.
The hybrid model also provides stakeholders multiple options to choose an environment that best suits their workplace and needs. It saves costs by extending private resources to the public cloud when necessary and requires less space on the premises.
One drawback to the hybrid model is that it has visibility and compliance challenges regarding data movement. In highly regulated sectors like healthcare, government and finance, a small mistake regarding data mismanagement can lead to hefty fines or lawsuits over privacy violations. The model also has compatibility issues, especially upfront with infrastructure compatibility when migrating to a hybrid CSP.
Choosing the right cloud approach
Cloud services models have similarities that range from flexibility to increased system redundancy (important for data backup). Some companies prefer the hybrid cloud to multi-cloud because of cost, scalability, data access, and security. The hybrid cloud enables better data access to a remote workforce providing more flexibility. Typically, the model has lower costs in case of a demand spike, avoiding vast capital expenditures on infrastructure expansion. The hybrid model has improved scalability control, allowing for increased automation and cloud adjustments, and limited data exposure to help enhance security.
Moving forward, more companies may opt for the hybrid model. A MarketsandMarkets study shows the hybrid cloud market growing at a 17 percent clip annually. Unlike a multi-cloud model, in which different clouds perform different tasks, the components of a hybrid cloud typically work together as one system.
Due to a single plane management, “Hybrid cloud services are powerful because they give businesses greater control over their private data,” states Citrix. A multi-cloud strategy means managing each cloud environment separately.
The future of the cloud
Using a CSP drives innovation. Data analysis, machine learning, and AI capabilities are all enhanced by cloud computing, which boosts speed, cost, and agility for organizations that rely heavily on the data collected. It can foster collaboration between teams located anywhere in the world. Clouding promotes cost control in resource, data management and infrastructure. Upgrades ranging from enhanced speed (vital for processing transactions), flexibility, compatibility, resilience (i.e., durability and sustainability) and computing innovation are coming.
That may require emerging IT or code writing skills. New models will also promote flexibility in terms of data access, facilitating the ability to procure information anytime from anywhere. Compatibility means working with multiple clouds while still functioning seamlessly.
Decisions about which cloud model is best involves questions about data management, access, security, data recovery and backup. In determining which type of CSP is right for a particular organization gather information on various hybrid and multi-cloud models, evaluating functionality, similarities, major differences, the benefits of each and the pitfalls.
Then, join the club.