Heading to the Cloud: A Strategic Overview

Organizations of all sizes across industries including government, regulated/unregulated, industry verticals etc., are all leveraging cloud services today. The attraction of moving to the cloud includes unlimited storage, powerful analytics tools, and quick development and deployment of applications using an infrastructure software that is continually being updated and advanced.

The cloud infrastructure allows organizations to quickly join the digital transformation bandwagon by utilizing the latest technologies that can provide innovation and advancements. Moving away from on-premises IT infrastructures to the cloud provides agility and nimbleness for change.

Cloud Services Options

With the cloud, services are made available to users on demand via the intranet versus using an organization’s on-premise services. The cloud services are designed to provide easy, scalable access to applications, content, resources and services.

The three cloud computing services; Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS) provide different security, control and cost options.

IAAS (Infrastructure as a Service) is a cloud computing model where a virtualized infrastructure is offered and managed by external cloud service providers. With IaaS, organizations outsource storage, servers, data center space, and cloud networking components connected through the internet. This allows for automation of operations such as backup, recovery, monitoring, clustering, internal networking, website hosting, etc.

The cloud service provider is responsible for building the servers and storage, networking firewalls & security, and the physical data center. The biggest advantage of renting, as opposed to owning the infrastructure, is that organizations can scale up or down the amount of space needed at any time.

PaaS (Platform as a Service) extends IaaS to deliver computing resources, both cloud software and hardware infrastructure components like middleware and operating systems, required to develop and test applications.

The PaaS environment enables developers to create applications, collaborate on projects, and test application functionality without having to purchase or maintain a development environment infrastructure. Development platforms can be accessed as long as there is an internet connection, allowing virtual development team members to stay connected and productive.

SaaS (Software as a Services) incorporates both IaaS and PaaS where the service provide delivers an entire software suite based on a subscription license model. Vendors host and maintain servers, applications, database, and code as software applications and make the service available to customers over the internet.

Cloud Deployment Options

The cloud deployment options are based on where the infrastructure for the deployment resides and who has control over that infrastructure. There are three types of cloud deployment options. Each option is categorized based on an organization’s ability to manage and secure assets as well as manage the cost for the overall needs.

  • Public Cloud
    is SaaS service offered to users over the internet. It is the most economical option for organizations in which the service provider bears the expenses of bandwidth and infrastructure. It has limited configurations, and the cost is determined by usage capacity. The limitations of the public cloud are its lack of SLA specifications. Despite high reliability, lower costs, zero maintenance and on-demand scalability, the public cloud is not suitable for organizations operating with sensitive information and stringent security regulations.
  • Private Cloud
    is mainly used by organizations who want to build and manage their own data centers for specific business and IT needs and operations. The private cloud provides more control over customizability, scalability and flexibility, while improving security of assets and business operations. This sort of infrastructure can be built on premises or outsourced to a third-party service provider. Either way, it has the ability to maintain the hardware and software environment over a private network solely for the organization. Large and medium-scale financial enterprises and government agencies typically opt for private clouds.
  • Hybrid Cloud
    is the combination of a private and public cloud, providing for more flexibility to businesses while having control over critical operations and assets, coupled with improved flexibility and cost efficiency. The hybrid cloud architecture enables companies to take advantage of the public cloud for easy workload migration. For instance, organizations can use the public cloud for running high-volume applications like emails, and utilize private clouds for sensitive assets like financials, custom applications data recovery, and during scheduled maintenance where there is a rise in demand.

Top 5 Benefits of Cloud Computing

  • Instant scalability
    The cloud enables immediate scalability of infrastructure capacity depending on the organization’s need. It is like having an unlimited IT resource, which can be scaled up or down to meet user demands. This improves organizational agility, productivity, and efficiency. The scalability and flexibility of the cloud contribute significantly to the cost savings because organizations only pay for what is needed. Organizations can choose to turn up capacity when more traffic peaks and rachet it back for the lulls.
  • Accessibility
    Cloud empowers organizations to deploy their applications across the globe, providing the same digital experience while using the applications.
  • Operational Efficiency
    Cloud service providers are incredibly reliable, maintaining up to 99.99% uptime with disaster recovery capabilities and built-in SLAs. This level of availability is key to managing risk, demands, and being competitive. Organizations focus on building new capabilities rather than investing in hardware infrastructure and data centers that either remain idle, or underutilized. Cloud computing saves time and effort in maintaining software, operating systems, and detail with downtime for system maintenance.
    Disaster recovery in the cloud doesn’t require as much upfront investment the way traditional equipment does. Also, it requires less maintenance over time. It is one of the logical business benefits of cloud computing, especially if you are already planning on making a move. Organizations do not have to invest in hardware, facilities, utilities, or building out a large data centers to expand capabilities.
  • High security
    Protecting sensitive, personally identifiable and/or financial information is a considerable challenge for CIOs. Advanced cloud security features protect against vulnerabilities and will mitigate the effect of any malicious attack, thus reducing the risks of information loss and cyber security threats.
  • Enterprise collaboration
    Any web-enabled device can access cloud-based information and tools, which is especially useful for mobile or remote workforces. Users can access content anytime, anywhere, making collaboration more efficient. Business processes improve because employees have the flexibility to edit and share content when it is convenient.
    Centralized documentation control on cloud-based, file-sharing and social communication apps offer transparency and visibility into work processes. This streamlines information flow and enables better collaboration between teams, departments and employees seated in different time zones, all of which leads to improved productivity.

“I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them.” – Isaac Asimov

Digital transformation to the cloud does bring new challenge for IT organizations: you no longer own or control many critical aspects of service delivery infrastructure and software. Back in the early days of cloud computing, data breaches, server vulnerabilities, and data loss were of top concerns. Cloud providers have enhanced security measures to minimize these threats.

One of the biggest mistakes organizations make in moving legacy applications to the cloud is not redesigning the application for the cloud. There are tremendous risks in not implementing protections like multi-factor authentication, protection of internet-accessible services, and misconfiguration of proper change control.

Let Vana help you identify whether your applications are “cloud ready”

The Vana cloud experts can help assess your legacy application for authentication, dependencies and integration point challenges. We identify opportunities for improvements and efficiencies which will help your organization quickly reap the benefits of digital transformation to the cloud.