By Roger Mitan
Amazon, Google, IBM, and Azure are some of the big players in this field and have quite a few offerings, from the base Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), also known as a virtual datacenter, to specialized offerings known as Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS).
There are also many local players in this field where you can be running in the cloud but are also able to visit the datacenter where that cloud is located and work directly with the experienced staff managing the environment. What is the right solution path for you to utilize the best of what the cloud has to offer?
If you are looking to simply uplift your systems from being physical boxes into a virtual space, then IaaS is generally what you are considering. In this case you pick a provider, choose the amount and type of memory, CPU and disk resources you need, and then move your systems into that cloud and consume those resources.
Most people utilize SaaS clouds without ever really considering that is what they are doing. These are basically software services delivered to you over the network, where you interact with the front-end software and have no view into the backend systems or resources. Some common examples of this are Salesforce, Cisco Webex, Twitter, and Facebook. You may even already be providing a SaaS solution to customers today via a custom web page, app or mobile app.
PaaS refers to software applications, generally for developers, to easily build, test, and scale their applications without the need of managing the underlying infrastructure. Some examples are database services, directory services, and container services.
What if you none of these options quite fit in with your requirements? What if you want to retain some of the hardware or want to have a private space for systems or storage? This is where private and hybrid clouds come into play.
A private cloud basically consists of a cloud front-end provided to you as IaaS or PaaS or some combination of these two. The compute, network, and storage hardware your cloud is running on is completely dedicated to you, although maintained by the cloud provider. You have the advantages of the public cloud (not having to manage and maintain hardware and software) along with the security and dedicated resources of your own equipment.
Hybrid cloud is a mix between public, private, and in-house architecture. Many clients take this approach as they like certain storage or firewall components or have a large investment in hardware that still has plenty of life left. In this case the pieces of the cloud can be dropped in where needed. Do you need extra compute power or high-speed, low-latency storage but don’t want to make the investment? This is a situation where you should explore a hybrid solution.
Some providers will offer a white-glove service to help you integrate your infrastructure with any number of public, private, and hybrid solutions. Should you choose a local provider, it is best to choose someone who has both cloud and colocations services available as well as many connectivity options for connection back to your office or local datacenter so you can easily mix your infrastructure with their cloud and colocation services.
When it comes to the cloud, there are many options available, but you don’t have to choose just one. Let a trusted advisor help you to properly fit your environment and needs into one or many of these solutions and help you to manage and maintain this environment afterwards as well. This will allow you to concentrate on your business without having to dive into the weeds of the ever-changing technology and cloud landscape.
Roger Mitan is the director of engineering with BlueBridge Networks, a downtown Cleveland-headquartered data-center and cloud computing business. He can be reached at (216) 621-2583 and firstname.lastname@example.org.