The word "cloud" means different things to different people. When we talk about "cloud" in this context of data storage, servers, databases, networking, and software through the Internet, we refer to what is known as cloud computing. This type of cloud provides access to cloud-infrastructure that powers applications and access to business data. It gives SMBs access to enterprise-grade technology at a fraction of the cost.
But there is still a significant amount of confusion about which type of cloud structure a business really needs. In this blog, we will tackle two questions:
- What type of cloud services exists?
- What are some of the misconceptions around the cloud that confuse business leaders?
Different Types of Cloud Computing Services
When it comes to cloud computing, there is no one size fits all. In fact, different cloud services provide different resources, depending on how you want to use these services. This list provides a guide as to the most popular cloud services and what they do.
1. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
IaaS is an economical cloud solution for businesses that eliminates capital expenditure and replaces premise-based servers, storage, networking, and phones by moving them to a data center where they are maintained and can be accessed online. Common business applications for IaaS include testing and development, website hosting, back-up and recovery, high-performance computing, and data analysis. IaaS creates a high-performing environment at a set, monthly price, making it a popular alternative for small businesses.
2. Platform as a Service (PaaS)
PaaS provides an environment that allows users to build internet applications and services, from simple apps to sophisticated enterprise applications. PaaS offers all the same services like IaaS, with an additional layer of middleware, development tools, business intelligence services, and database management (among other services), so it's frequently used by software and web developers.
3. Software as a Service (SaaS)
Most business leaders are familiar with SaaS services in the way of email, calendars, web conferencing tools, project tracking, and office productivity tools such as Microsoft Office 365. Customers pay only for the software they use and have access to highly sophisticated applications without the burden or expense of developing and maintaining upgrades. Nearly every business has invested in some SaaS service.
4. Back-up as a Service (BaaS)
Back-up as a service is the backing up of data into the cloud and storing that data at a data center. Instead of worrying about rotating and managing tapes or hard disks from an offsite location, data is maintained by a 3rd party provider with redundant and secure locations. BaaS also serves to protect businesses from data loss in the case of a natural or unforeseeable disaster.
5. Cyber-Security as a Service (CSaaS)
Cyber Security as a Service refers to outsourcing information security tasks to a technology partner who monitors and maintains your data's security. CSaaS might include a security operations center (SOC), security monitoring and threat detection, and events management (SIEM) systems. For companies with high-data sensitivity, this may be the only layer of protection from sophisticated hackers. Businesses of any size should consider working with a Managed IT provider to develop their own Cyber Security plan regardless of whether it lives in the Cloud or onsite.
6. Desktop and Workstation as a Service (DaaS or WaaS)
Desktop and Workstation as a Service provide employees with a virtual (online) connection to their desktop, business-related information, applications, and data from a virtual sign-on. The advantages include cost savings (thanks to the licensing model), protection of sensitive corporate data (since data is no longer stored locally on the device), secure access to the company's data, simple and fast provisioning, high scalability from any device.
7. Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)
DRaaS uses cloud resources to safeguard and protect applications from disruption and loss. Data loss and disruption is a major concern for businesses of all sizes because downtime can be costly to the point of ruin. If a system goes down, it's essential that backed-up data is accessible in the shortest amount of time possible so that employees can access both the network and data quickly.
Avoiding Common Cloud Misconceptions that Confuse Small Business Leaders
While several variations and models of cloud computing exist, there are a number of misconceptions about the cloud that have crept up over the years, causing business leaders to make mistakes about how they move systems to the cloud and protect the data that lives in the Cloud.
Common Cloud Misconceptions
The Cloud is turnkey.
While IT cloud services may appear to be "plug and play," managing cloud services can become complex. Most businesses are operating from a vast portfolio of cloud applications and infrastructure that combine the use of off- and on-premises clouds, adding difficulty to infrastructure management, making the best use of cloud computing anything but turnkey.
The Cloud is not secure.
Cloud security is improving all the time. In most cases, cloud vendors will have data encryption, functionality, and security procedures that are more stringent and more advanced than those of their clients.
The Cloud comes in one size only.
The cloud is a flexible solution, and all good providers have a wide range of cloud-computing choices. As seen in the list above, varying uses for the cloud will determine which type of cloud computing and functionality you need.
The Cloud is more expensive.
- Although switching to the cloud may come with slight upfront costs such as installation or migration, in the long run, it will save you money. Cloud computing is known to reduce IT management costs dramatically. When you add up the cost of management, energy, hardware, software licensing, refreshes, storage space, and everything else that comes with managing your own IT infrastructure, you could be looking at a pricey per-year investment.
I don't have to back-up my data in the Cloud; it's already backed-up.
- Let's clear one thing up right away: synchronization isn't back-up. Cloud-syncing services are an easy, effective way to keep vital files updated across several machines. But if you're relying on a service like this to save your skin in the case of an IT emergency, you're running a serious risk. You need a professional cloud back-up solution that recovers files from its original creation to the present day.
The Cloud guarantees fast data recovery in the event of an emergency.
- Data back-up is the process of copying the data to a separate location, so it always exists somewhere else. Even if the data is stored in an off-premises cloud server, being able to restore the data rapidly ends up being a challenge. When organizations only have back-up solutions, they don't really have a good way of recovering data, or in the disaster recovery context, recover their applications. Data back-up and recovery ensures your team can retrieve data accurately and quickly when needed.
The Cloud should and will work the way you expect it to work.
- Not so. Cloud interoperability is the ability of a customer's system to interact with a cloud service or the ability for one cloud service to interact with other cloud services by exchanging information according to a prescribed method for predictable results. This should be a consideration if you want to move an application and data from one cloud to another.
Who Can Help?
Managed IT partners like Blue Fox Group provide a vendor-agnostic, network holistic approach to helping any size business leverage cloud and technology to reduce cost, increase efficiency, and avoid surprises across the entire network.
At Blue Fox Group, we provide 3 specific advantages:
- Together, we reduce the amount of time you dedicate to buying and maintaining technology while helping you avoid technology pitfalls that consume your time.
- We save your organization money by purchasing only what you really need when you need it.
- We help you to avoid technology mishaps and blunders that erode customer confidence and tarnish your reputation.
Bottom line, a managed service provider, like Blue Fox Group reduce unpredictable costs, help you to elevate IT to a strategic level, and provide the expertise of a dedicated IT team that solves ordinary and complex issues every day – all day.
Tell us how we can help you.
Blue Fox Group is dedicated to helping businesses tackle common and complex IT challenges. Connect with us to start a discussion around how we might help you leverage technology positively to streamline operations, grow revenue, and simply do your job better.
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