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Cloud Computing 101—Which Cloud Deployment Model is Best for Your Company

Data depicted in the forms of zeros and ones flowing from an empty cloud as an analogy for the flow of data with gradient blue background.

The age of digital transformation arrived with the invention of the cloud which reshaped the way business was done across many industries.

Even if you are the rare individual who took an actual Cloud Computing 101 course back in your college days, the technology has evolved so dramatically over the past few years that you might want to brush up on your knowledge. Many more of you may be wondering “Which cloud deployment model is best for your company?” This brief guide to cloud computing should help.

First, a quick bit of history. Ten years ago, a researcher at MIT Technology Review traced the term “cloud” to a business plan written in 1996 by Compaq – a then-dominant builder of computer hardware and servers that is now a division of Hewlett Packard. The business plan described in great detail a network of data centers running interactive computers and boldly predicted that all business software would one day move to the web via what the authors called “cloud computing-enabled applications.”

While the terminology dates back 25 years, cloud-computing technology itself was conceived thirty years earlier. The cloud as we know it was invented in the mid-1960s by the great J.C.R. Licklider, a psychologist who took an interest in information technology and became a computer scientist. While working at MIT and the Pentagon on ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet that Licklider also helped conceive, the man known as “Lick” laid the theoretical groundwork for many of the most revolutionary inventions of the dawning computer age, including the Graphic User Interface and the interactive computing protocols that brought the cloud to life.

The huge wave of business cloud migration that began in the first half of the new millennium has accelerated at a faster rate each year since. It now seems inevitable that, as predicted, every business will be running at least some of its operations in the cloud.

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If you are considering cloud migration, there are some things you should know.

As with any good introductory course, let’s define some key terms that you should become familiar with in this cloud-dominated world.

The cloud. Most of us first began to hear of the cloud in the mid-2000s, when several of the world’s biggest companies created new business models by building vast data centers that could host applications and programs. The invention of the cloud was a game-changer, reshaping the way business was done in many industries, and sparked what came to be known as the age of digital transformation.

Types of deployment models

Public cloud. The brand-name cloud service providers whose data centers furnish storage and infrastructure to most businesses today operate what is known as the public cloud. Most of their business involves running virtual services in a public environment. The infrastructure in the public cloud is shared by millions of users, and all reputable public-cloud service providers take pains to keep your data separate from that of other users. The public cloud can, in many cases, provide adequate security for many organizations’ needs. In many cases, however, factors such as federal and state regulations demand that some data be kept in a more secure environment.

Private cloud. With a private cloud model, an organization builds or contracts with a technology management company to build its own data center. In this model, all of the IT infrastructure is reserved exclusively for your organization and the architecture can be configured to your precise business requirements. Also known as the “enterprise cloud,” a private cloud environment ensures that organizations such as banks and hospitals, whose data is extremely sensitive, comply with state and federal laws particularly as applies to privacy and security concerns.

Hybrid cloud. Over the past couple of years, most businesses have come to understand that they need to choose one cloud from Column A and one cloud from Column B because different sets of enterprise data require distinct solutions. That’s why the hybrid cloud solution makes sense to more and more CIOs.

The hybrid cloud allows you to use your existing internal IT Infrastructure for critical data with heightened privacy and security requirements. Confidential data can be stored internally, while only your applications in the public cloud can access it. The hybrid cloud also offers flexibility and cost savings because it scales with your needs. You can access it when resource demand is high and save money when resource demand is low.

Multi-cloud. This practice began when organizations with multiple divisions, each with its own set of IT requirements, needed to match each division with the services and solutions that best suited their specific needs. That required dealing with not one cloud service provider but two or more. This has since become the industry standard. Commonly paired with a hybrid cloud strategy, the multi-cloud expands on the benefits of hybrid cloud computing, offering more flexibility, greater efficiencies, and heightened performance.

Managed cloud. When Quest first started helping organizations move their data to the cloud, many executives were surprised to learn that when they make that move, they are responsible for managing the migration and then managing all of their cloud-hosted data and applications. Many years later, we are finding that this is often the case. To be clear, each SaaS has a defined policy where backing up the data is usually done, but may vary on retention.

Technology management companies that offer managed cloud services build an on-ramp to the cloud and often can offer these services for a monthly fee that’s much less costly than using internal resources. Many businesses are finding that the total cost of ownership of a managed cloud environment saves them money because they do not have to recruit a team with skills that are in high demand and therefore very valuable.

All of this together presents an opportunity and a challenge. The advances made possible by the cloud have transformed the world and allow us to offer organizations, and the people who make them work, a set of powerful tools. J.C.R. Licklider’s biographer said the great inventor worked from a “conviction that computers can become not just super-fast calculating machines, but joyful machines: tools that will serve as new media of expression, inspirations to creativity, and gateways to a vast world of online information.”

If you are considering a move to the cloud, knowing where you are currently is the first step in getting where you want to go. We recommend using a cloud worksheet tool to help you map your cloud requirements and seek one-on-one consulting to assess your workloads and applications, address cost, security management, possible downtime, and the proven experience you need to lead the migration on point from start to finish. With this due diligence handled, you should be on your way to seamlessly migrate and function in the cloud.

I hope you found this information helpful. As always, contact us anytime about your technology needs.

Until next time,

Tim

Meet the Author
Tim Burke is the President and CEO of Quest. He has been at the helm for over 30 years.

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