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Understanding Cloud Services and your Options

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We’ll keep the introduction relatively short here. It’s very clear that cloud is now impacting organizations of all sizes and across all verticals. Cisco recently reported that by 2019, more than 86 percent of workloads will be processed by cloud data centers. Furthermore, global spending on IaaS reached more than US$16.5 billion in 2015, an increase of 32.8 percent from 2014, according to Gartner’s latest forecast. Finally, findings from a recent Gartner report go on to say that the use of cloud computing is growing, and by 2016 this growth will increase to become the bulk of new IT spend.

A critical point to remember here is that cloud computing isn’t just one overarching umbrella term. Rather, today’s cloud ecosystems is a collection of services, infrastructure and resources all being delivered for various use-cases. With that in mind – let’s look at some modern cloud services and how they impact your business.

  • Network-as-a-Service. As more users connect to the cloud, data centers will need to figure out a better way to deliver high quality, low latency, network services. Already, we’re seeing NaaS become a key category of cloud computing where specific delivery models are defining how users utilize these services. For example, Bandwidth-on-Demand (BoD) can be considered a NaaS service model where bandwidth can dynamically adapt to the live requirements of traffic. Furthermore this can be configured based on number of connections, nodes connected to the data center, and where traffic priority policies integrate. As more users connect to the data center for things like streaming, data sharing, and consuming compute cycles – delivering high quality network services will be an absolute necessity.
  • Data-as-a-Service. With more users comes a lot more data. In this service model, data is delivered on demand in a manner which allows the actual information to be clean and very agile. The idea is to offer data to various systems, different types of applications, and different user groups. This data would be available regardless of whether the user is inside of the organization or out of it. Furthermore, policies can be wrapped around this data to further enhance QoS, integrity, and agility. Already, big cloud vendors are utilizing a variety of DaaS models to enhance the data delivery process. Providers like Microsoft Azure deliver and store data via three different methods – queues, tables, and blobs. The future of DaaS is bright. Organizations will want to further control and optimize both structured and unstructured data sets. Applications include everything from optimized data delivery to big data analytics.
  • Backend-as-a-Service. This one is becoming very popular – very fast. The major influx of users coming in via mobile devices has created a boom in mobile application development. BaaS allows for both web and mobile application platforms to link to backend cloud storage services. This helps provide optimized features around push notifications to a variety of devices, complete user management, and the ability to integrate with other social networking platforms. In utilizing SDKs and various APIs, BaaS is able to directly integrate various cloud services with both web and mobile applications. Already, there is a broad focus where open platforms aim to support every major platform including iOS, Android, Windows, and Blackberry. Furthermore, the BaaS platform aims to further enhance the mobile computing experience by integrating with cloud-ready hosting vendors like Azure, Rackspace and EC2. Still curious? Take a look at what some BaaS providers have been doing. For example, DreamFactory provides a truly open-source software platform capable of integrating with any cloud or data center provider. Basically, it gives you the back-end and you create the front-end app.
  • Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service. A very popular cloud service is one that revolves around corporate and infrastructure resiliency. DR-as-a-Service comes in a number of flavors capable of supporting a lot of different types of use-cases. For example, if you have critical workloads that must stay up at all times – you can create a hot, mirrored, site capable of load-balancing users and workloads should an emergency occur. Similarly, if you have apps or resources which aren’t as critical, you can create a warm or cold site which can allow for fast failover, lower cost, and still meet business needs. The difference here is your tolerance to downtime. One major recommendation is to conduct a business impact analysis (BIA). This helps you understand which systems must stay up, which can sustain a little bit of downtime, and which are not critical. This allows you to design a DR strategy that best fits your business and user’s needs.
  • Storage-as-a-Service. Maybe you’re trying to reduce your data center footprint or maybe you’re just trying to extend your data center ecosystem. Whatever the case, storage options are now great when it comes to cloud. Major vendors like AWS and Azure offer very specific storage services. Similarly, traditional data center providers and cloud hosting shops also offer various storage services. This is great to support applications living in the cloud, new users coming in to request services or resources, and it helps evolve business strategy. Storage can be tricky. When moving workloads into the cloud for storage purposes, make sure to understand requirements and performance metrics. User experience is critical when you begin to migrate workloads into a cloud storage ecosystem.
  • Software-as-a-Service (Desktops and Apps). One of the founding types of cloud services, SaaS has really come a long way. In fact, I’m bundling in desktop delivery as well as application delivery into this category. There has been an absolute resurgence behind cloud-based software and desktop delivery. Organizations are seeing direct benefits in working with cloud systems which can, for example, control and delivery entire VDI environments. Now, you have more resources, powerful optimization layers, and even user control methodologies all living in the cloud. This means that use-cases which you never thought were possible in the cloud – can now be delivered in an “as-a-Service” ecosystem. Mid-market and SMBs are seeing the direct benefit of delivering powerful desktops and applications directly via the cloud. This introduces greater levels of competitive capabilities and helps create better data center economics.
  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service (and Everything-as-a-Service). Data center resources have become a lot more powerful and are capable of supporting more diverse workloads. Cloud services now allow you to utilize specific physical resources, within your cloud provider’s environment, to deliver a variety of applications and use-cases. Today, many organizations are evaluating their own data center and business strategies. Do you invest in more on premise infrastructure or do you utilize cloud? The reality is that many organizations are finding an even balance in using hybrid cloud services to create a very agile business. Data center and cloud providers are offering many different types of services to get you to host “everything” in their cloud ecosystem. Today, there are many options to the type of infrastructure you can deploy, where cloud can have an impact, and where you can align your business.

If you’re looking at cloud hosting options and are feeling overwhelmed; don’t be. Take a step back and realize that cloud is a powerful ecosystem capable of fitting in with your very specific needs. If you lack expertise, work with a partner to help you understand where cloud fits in with your business strategy. It’s much easier to move into a cloud environment or utilize a cloud service than ever before. Organizations looking to stay agile and competitive in today’s market must absolutely look at ways cloud can be incorporated into the business.

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