Clearing the Clouds About the Cloud
In today’s environment, the cost of maintaining an on-premise IT infrastructure is out of reach for many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Hardware and software maintenance costs pile on top of upgrade expenses, which in turn are adding to the cost of hiring and maintaining skilled IT staff.
There is an alternative to all that expense—the cloud. With the cloud, a business can own their entire IT infrastructure at a fraction of the cost of traditional means. As a managed services provider (MSP), you can take advantage of this savings for your clients, capitalizing on TalkinCloud’s prediction that hybrid cloud adoption will triple in the next 3 years.
What IS the Cloud?
We have all heard of the cloud, but what exactly is it? Simply put, the cloud is a means by which you can outsource whatever IT assets you need through an Internet service provider (ISP).
Take, for example, a client that needs an entire database server. They are considering SQL Server, but acquiring and licensing it would be too expensive. With the cloud, the owner can select a specialized SQL Server package from an ISP for a low, fixed monthly price. They would have the same database functionality as they would if they owned the database package outright.
But Wait, There’s More!
You can help clients create and develop their own IT infrastructure in the cloud, with the following benefits:
- No need to hire additional staff because the cloud provider (ISP) takes care of the maintenance associated with hardware and software
- No licensing fees when selecting and purchasing a software package from an ISP
- Costs are low, predictable and priced to fit almost any budget
- If there ever is an issue with hardware or software, the ISP is required to resolve technical issues (according to the Service Level Agreement), with the price of support included in the monthly plan
- The client does not have to worry about making sure that their hardware or software is secure. The ISP is primarily responsible for this, and for applying the required security patches and upgrades.
Looking for a little more clarity about the cloud? What most people don’t realize is that the cloud is not just one type of entity. Let’s have a look at the three main components of the cloud:
- Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS): This is the underlying platform of the cloud and consists of all the physical, virtual and connection resources needed to keep network traffic moving smoothly.
- Platform-as-a-service (PaaS): This platform allows the SMB to create, develop and launch their own web-based applications not only for themselves, but for their clients as well (such as creating a mobile app).
- Software-as-a-service (SaaS): This platform contains all of the prepackaged software applications that an SMB owner can purchase from the ISP. SaaS can consist of almost any software a business uses on a PC or server, from web development tools and database applications like SQL Server to e-commerce packages that allow the SMB to build their own online store.
How is the Cloud Deployed?
Let’s look at three different models:
- The Public Cloud: This is the most common type of cloud structure offered by an ISP, and is available to any SMB who wants to purchase it.
- The Private Cloud: This type of cloud is only available to SMBs that require more robust technical support from the ISP. Usually, there is a much higher price point associated with this, because it is managed to elevated service level standards.
- The Hybrid Cloud: This is a combination of the public and private cloud. This cloud structure is not commonly available. It is designed for SMBs who require mixed, cloud-based functionalities.
Now that you’ve got a better grasp on how cloud services can provide innumerable benefits for your clients and your business, stay tuned for my next post—a deep dive into virtualization and the cloud.