What is ‘the cloud’?

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The term ‘cloud’ is thrown around a lot these days but what does it actually mean?

The cloud is just a buzz word for an application or service that is hosted in a datacentre. Basically, any application or service that is not stored or hosted on-premise is cloud-based. Datacentres have been around for decades but have traditionally been used by large organisations to host their business-critical systems.

More and more organisations are starting to invest in the cloud space, which is allowing the technology to evolve into concepts such as IaaS and SaaS, ultimately making cloud technology more accessible for small and medium organisations.

IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)

Larger organisations (with greater purchasing power) procure server-grade hardware and set-up a secure hosting environment in a datacentre. They then resell portions as IaaS to their customers which is then delivered over the internet.

Examples

  • Microsoft Azure
  • Amazon Web Services
  • Telstra Cloud Services
  • Telarus Private Cloud

Pros

  • No capital costs
  • No maintenance required on the hardware level
  • Ability to increase or decrease resources available
  • High availability (fewer points of failure)

Cons

  • No ownership of the hardware
  • Ongoing costs
  • No physical access to the hardware

SaaS (Software as a Service)

Larger organisations (with greater software development resources and budgets) develop software packages and set-up a secure hosting environment in a datacentre. They then resell their product as SaaS to their customers, which is then delivered over the internet.

Examples

  • Microsoft Office365 (Email, SharePoint, OneDrive)
  • G Suite (Email, Google App i.e. GoogleDrive)
  • Xero
  • MYOB in the cloud

Pros

  • No capital costs
  • No maintenance required on the software or hardware level
  • High availability (fewer points of failure)
  • Ease of access
  • Reduces the complexity and expertise required in the setup, configuration, and ongoing maintenance

Cons

  • No ownership on the software package
  • Ongoing costs
  • No physical access to the hardware or software package

What this means for your organisation?

IaaS or SaaS may be the way forward for you to increase accessibility for your employees, contractors, clients or even suppliers. Reducing capital costs on hardware or software packages will allow you to benefit from technology that would otherwise be unavailable.

What your organisation can do about it?

Research more than just the features; find out where the data is stored, what sort of backups are involved, what uptime guarantees they offer, what support is offered and what hours they are available. If you’re looking at a SaaS solution, think about whether you will ever need to customise anything. Run the offering past an IT specialist to make sure you cover off all aspects.

As always, if you want to find out any more information, or have us sit down with you to discuss your cloud environment or moving to the cloud, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Mark Saines

Mark Saines

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INS Consulting is a boutique Managed Service Provider specialising in professional IT solutions for small to medium business across Australia.

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