Cloud technology has never been more important in the business world. The pandemic had a significant effect on the adoption of cloud services and now, it is predicted that budget for cloud computing will make up 51% of IT spending by 2025.
In fact, Gartner estimates that by 2025 “over 95% of new digital workloads will be deployed on cloud-native platforms, up from 30% in 2021”. It is clear businesses should embrace cloud technology as a vital part of their digital transformation strategies in the future.
But with such a wide range of technology available that offer increased security, scalability, flexibility, and value, how do IT leaders know which ‘flavour’ of cloud is right for their organisation?
No one-size-fits-all approach
Businesses have all sorts of different requirements when looking to upgrade services to cloud. This can be based on the size of their company, the technology already in place and the reasons they are looking to migrate to cloud in the first place.
For example, newer private sector companies who are looking to integrate cloud-native services into the business have found a full migration to cloud is best. Whereas more traditional organisations across the public and private sectors may encounter problems with legacy technology which are not as easy to migrate wholesale. In this case, a ‘hybrid cloud’ solution might be more appropriate.
This all needs to be assessed before making an informed decision. In many circumstances – perhaps all, and despite what some providers might tell you – there is no ‘off the shelf’ solution that will work for all organisations. Making good decisions around cloud technology can seem complicated, especially without the right explanations or guidance. But it doesn’t have to be.
‘Flavours’ of cloud
- Public cloud
A public cloud solution is hosted by a third-party provider. This changes the traditional on-premise IT architecture to a virtual, scalable alternative which is provided over the public internet to multiple customers.
This reduces the amount of server management the customer will need to do; it’ll allow for stronger security measures and saves cost, particularly compared to on-premise infrastructure.
But whilst this reduces IT operations for the customer, it’s wise to look out for contractual ‘lock-ins’ which can limit flexibility and, any compliance concerns over regulations that the business might need to adhere to.
- Private cloud
For a security-conscious company, this option is by far the most secure. It isn’t shared with other customers and is only used by the one business, instead of multiple organisations like public cloud.
Private cloud services can be hosted internally by the business itself or hosted by a third-party provider off-premise.
Customers can benefit from improved performance; greater scalability and it offers better control over the service. Although this may come with increased costs to deploy the technology, the longer-term Return-on-Investment (ROI) makes it desirable.
- Hybrid cloud
This option is exactly what it says on the tin – a combination of cloud and on-premise technology. Much like the hybrid car, this creates a solution that is powerful, efficient and offers greater functionality.
It’s the easiest way to get up and running in a cloud environment – which makes it an attractive option for larger, more traditional organisations using legacy tech. This allows businesses to benefit from the scalability of public cloud, as well as the security of private cloud.
The connection between these services and, in some cases, legacy infrastructure must be seamless. The stumbling block for this ‘flavour’ of cloud is managing multiple environments with different security risks and integrations which can increase complexity.
As soon as a business uses its first cloud product, they are effectively employing a hybrid cloud environment, which tends to be the most popular choice if a full migration isn’t possible.
- Multi cloud
With multi cloud solutions, businesses can use various public clouds. This would be for several purposes, but they would need to be complementary of each other, working in harmony.
The main driver for this type of cloud solution is business continuity and to meet regulatory demands. Large enterprises – who can risk zero-downtime – opt for a multi cloud environment to avoid the unlikelihood of their primary public cloud provider experiencing issues.
On top of this, there are even more options for businesses to consider in their search.
SaaS applications are hosted on cloud servers and are accessed over the internet.
The vendor has done all the hard work, effectively all the business must do is remember their login details. This is because SaaS solutions are accessed through everyday web browsers, making it accessible from any device and incurring little to no operational management.
With PaaS, businesses can build their own apps by using tools, infrastructure, and operating software from suppliers.
This builds on the above. For a business looking to take their next step on their cloud journey, this is a cost-effective way to initially develop, run, and host cloud-based applications.
IaaS consists of renting server space from a cloud provider and building bespoke applications.
Rather than having to invest in creating your own private data centre, businesses can utilise IaaS partners’ compute, storage, and networking services on demand. This is usually a pay-as-you-go model which makes it more affordable than designing your own.
This can also be referred to as ‘serverless computing’. It means cloud applications only run the elements needed per function.
This strategy allows IT leaders to focus on what’s most important – delivering value to their customers. By using the cloud service provider to scale and manage the infrastructure needed to run the application, organisations can roll out products faster and more efficiently.
The benefits outweigh the risks
With so many options, initially it can seem overwhelming and sometimes expensive to take the leap to cloud. But guidance and education about different cloud options can help IT leaders of any scale – from a small independent company to an international enterprise – make informed decisions and architect the ideal solution to suit their needs.