Cloud computing has absolutely changed the landscape of the modern business. Hosting providers now help organizations compete more efficiently, deliver rich resources, and enable the ever-mobile end-user. Gartner recently described cloud computing as a disruptive phenomenon, with the potential to make IT organizations more responsive than ever. Cloud computing promises economic advantages, speed, agility, flexibility, infinite elasticity and innovation. Here’s the really important piece, by the end of this year alone at least 20 percent of all cloud services will be consumed via internal or external cloud service brokerages, rather than directly, up from less than 5 percent today.
With all of that in mind, it’s important to understand that the beauty of the cloud is the diversity that it presents for the customer. Now, end-users are able to host several different platforms in the cloud. This means utilizing cloud-based resources for websites, applications, databases and much more. With this type of diversity come some special planning considerations. Remember, no one cloud environment is truly the same and each organization will have specific needs – both from a business and IT perspective. In working with cloud hosting providers, managers must understand the type of workload they plan to host to best support their users. Furthermore, a good design will create a robust infrastructure capable of growth an expansion based on business needs.
When selecting the right cloud hosting partner, managers and IT administrators must know who will be accessing their environment, in what quantities and when there may be spikes. This holds true for any cloud-based deployment. Although there are many ways to utilize cloud providers, here are some ways many customers develop their cloud infrastructure.
- Websites, ecommerce, portals, etc: A very common way to partner with a cloud hosting provider is to create some type of online presence. Some organizations choose to host their infrastructure internally. In those cases, there may be inherent reasons to do so. However, many others will elect to have their environment hosted, managed and controlled by a cloud provider. These sites, ecommerce environments and customer portals can be used as a resilient method for access and visibility into an organization. When selecting a cloud partner for this type of use, make sure to work within the means of the provider. During the planning stages, ensure that the partner has the right type of components to support your organization’s needs:
- Underlying hardware and software
- Solid support
- International domain support (as needed)
- Backup and redundancy
- Compliance and regulation needs
- Growth capability
- Application hosting: Another common way to use a cloud provider is to deliver applications wither through a portal or directly through a website. In these cases, ensure that the provider is able to support this type of infrastructure. Application delivery isn’t always as easy as just building a website. There are several serious considerations that must be understood prior to any application deployment in a cloud environment. Although the following list isn’t all-encompassing, it does outline some of the more important elements in selecting the right partner.
- Application delivery security
- User load on the application servers
- User load-balancing
- International application access
- Latency and Wide Area Network requirements
- Database capabilities
- Virtual machine (VM) delivery/desktop delivery: This has become a growing trend among many organizations looking to streamline their virtual machine and desktop delivery process. Aside from just hosting websites, some providers will also allow customers to host VMs or desktops for use and access. Although not available with every cloud provider, many will offer the right type of infrastructure to support VM and desktop delivery processes. Remember, in most cases, you are given the hardware and are expected to build out this infrastructure internally. Some providers will offer professional services to help with the process. Take note, poor planning around desktop or VM delivery can result in a bad end-user experience. There are several considerations in selecting the right type of partner for this specific type of deploying. In working with cloud-based desktops and VMs, remember the following:
- Resource utilization
- User access loads
- Latency between the user and the cloud provider
- VM and desktop load-balancing
- Expansion capabilities
- Desktop, VM and application compatibility.
Remember when selecting the right partner for your organization, you must know the capabilities of the underlying provider infrastructure. This means that just because they offer a certain technology or tool does not mean they are always capable of handling the needs of the customer. The selection process must take into consideration current and future trends for any organization since growth and expansion are expected outcomes of a growing business. The right partner will be able to scale as your business needs evolve.