The cloud, once something that people looked at in the sky, is now an everyday tool for businesses. Just like there are stratus, cumulonimbus and nimbus clouds, the technological cloud has different varieties as well. But one thing they all have in common is assisting organizations with data management.
Other benefits include:
- The ability to stand out from competitors, thanks to access to the latest technologies and tools.
- Support for remote teams that need to access or share files at a moment’s notice. In the last five years, there has been a 44% increase in remote work. The cloud has helped companies grow and assist their remote teams.
- Along with remote team growth, the technology has helped organizations scale in order to meet changing digital demands in daily processes or customer and client needs. The use of applications and other abilities can aid in improving business practices while evolving alongside a business.
Although business leaders and managers may already know these benefits, it can be challenging to choose which version to use. The following sections discuss the types of clouds available and which companies might find them useful.
The public cloud is a virtual infrastructure located offsite and shares space with other companies. These are often available through a public network like the internet. A RightScale study found that the average business runs 38% of their workload on the public cloud.
The reasons businesses use the public include: it meets the basic needs of the company, it uses a pay-as-you-go format, it utilizes offsite and secure data storage, it’s scalable to meet the demands of change or growth. Also, the service provider takes care of updating tools, which means one less thing for a company to deal with.
However, some of the drawbacks of the public cloud include it being a target for hackers. Even though they may not be looking for an exact company’s data, data is still at risk. Another factor is that the public cloud is a one-size-fits-all model that does not flex for configuration and security needs, which is especially hard for businesses that need to follow regulations or protect sensitive data.
However, organizations that need to test software or develop data tools find the public cloud a useful tool. Companies that have predictable computing needs or want someone else to handle infrastructure maintenance can also find this type to be helpful.
The private cloud is something a business can create themselves or work with a service provider on. When working with a vendor, a company can have a specific amount of space to use, and this storage space can be located onsite or offsite. Organizations that create their storage often do it in order to have control over their data and security.
There are three types of private cloud:
- Software-only: This one lives on top of a company’s existing software and is useful for businesses that have just upgraded their software and hardware.
- Pre-Integrated Converged: For businesses that want an out-of-the-box solution, this type is part of a hardware or software bundle.
- Managed: In this instance, the organization can hold the hardware and software, but a vendor or service provider manages it. By using this solution, companies can be released from managing regular maintenance and upgrades—that responsibility lies with the vendor.
A private cloud is excellent for companies that need more control and flexibility with the systems that are connected to it and desire specific firewall protections. In industries with compliance standards or private data requirements, such as the healthcare industry, the private cloud is a go-to solution.
There is a higher cost associated with this type of cloud. Vendor service fees, which can include maintenance, support or upgrade costs, are a drawback for some organizations that do not have a large budget for technology.
Companies that use this version of the cloud are typically in a highly-regulated industry that requires next-level security or a larger enterprise that needs a state-of-the-art data center. Their teams need vendor support for handling daily care of the cloud, which can include updates and security monitoring.
As the name suggests, this type is a combination of both the public and private. Companies that use this option often find the biggest benefit to be it’s flexibility, as they have access to unlimited scalability and cost efficiencies while keeping core applications and other components within control. However, businesses that do use this option need to have a robust and unified networking model with the right vendor to have access to public and private elements of the cloud at the same time.
Organizations experiencing a transition period find hybrid to be helpful. By using elements of both a private and public cloud, they can decide which resources within the company need to be public or private. Plus, they can map out if using both options will create a balance that provides peace of mind while being affordable.
Although companies using the hybrid aren’t locked into using a single cloud provider, they have to track and manage multiple platforms and vendors at the same time. This can lead to complex IT management practices in order to keep secure data and information in the correct place, while also ensuring the right people have access to it.
Companies exploring cloud opportunities find a hybrid model helpful because it allows them to optimize opportunities without jeopardizing the benefits of public or private technologies. Additionally, organizations with a variety of different regulatory, security and performance requirements find it useful to support their array of needs.
There is another type of cloud in development called multi-cloud, which takes hybrid a step further. For companies that need versatility and specialization or have departmental silos will find the latter to be helpful.
Whatever type of cloud a business chooses, it should help them rather than hinder their practices. Also, companies need to properly research their vendors to ensure that they deliver exactly what is expected of them. Some, like Infor software, are hosted on third-party vendors, which means a non-cohesive suite of applications—an element that can create more problems for a company.
At the end of the day, it is a useful tool for companies to have in their operations. It is a spot for storing data and sharing information with team members. The cloud is something that is staying in the forecast for successful business practice.