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The Definitive Guide to Cloud Computing

The power of cloud computing and the agility it offers can help you accelerate your business. But if you don’t know what the cloud is or precisely how it can help you, it’s a moot point. So whether your data center contract is up for renewal, you have seen an increase in capacity requirements, are facing a software or hardware refresh, have new compliance requirements or simply want to move to the cloud, it’s time to learn more about how cloud is right for your organization.

Use Cloud Computing to Help Accelerate Your Business

To build the best user experience, pre-integration work (defining user stories and knowing your use cases) is critical. Our details on cloud computing use cases offers some common scenarios and reasoning in addition to a guide to help lead you to your own use case.

Even once you’ve decided that you’re ready to move to the cloud, there are more questions to ask to help you determine your cloud model, delivery model and integration endpoints. Moving to the cloud is more than price. Moving to the cloud is more than just reliability. Moving to the cloud requires a provider who can:

  1. Respond to the technology needs of your unique situation.
  2. Offer a solution that achieves your business objectives.
  3. Field a team that can support the unique needs of your organization.

Cloud Computing Use Cases

Man and woman in data center making decisions

There are hundreds of use cases for cloud computing and the one that resonates with you will help you determine whether you should be looking for a public, private or hybrid cloud solution. Use cases can be defined from two different perspectives: organizational needs versus technical needs.

To develop your use case:

  1. Establish the business problems and requirements you need to address with the technology.
  2. Identify what existing applications, software and hardware are outdated and could be replaced.
  3. Determine which business applications require constant management, updates/upgrades and scalable infrastructure.

Common Use Cases

Infrastructure Scaling

Standard infrastructure is difficult to scale at will. Cloud offers flexible scalability so you can ensure that your infrastructure is the right size for what you need. This scalability is particularly useful if you anticipate your capacity needs changing – for instance, your company is growing.

High Availability & Disaster Recovery

Similar to the best data centers, the cloud has very high reliability and availability. If you need to failover during a disaster, the cloud will be there to support you. It also eliminates the need for a large budget for servers that you are (hopefully) not going to have to use.

Platform Development

The cloud can offer development-heavy cultures easy spin-up and spin-down of development environments. This gives the organization the ability to create and test applications more easily, speeding time-to-market.

Hosted Services

Outsourcing the management and administration of typical business applications (e.g. email) to hosted service providers can help reduce overhead and can improve team collaboration while expanding accessibility.

Storage and Data Management

Cloud resources offer you access to improved and scalable data storage, increasing accessibility, easing distribution and making backup much simpler.

Limited or No IT Staff

For organizations with limited or no dedicated IT staff, cloud computing offers the ability to pay only for services required and to hire a regional cloud provider to manage all aspects of their IT needs. This can both lower costs and make them more predictable.

Governance or Regulatory Requirements

Security or governance issues force organizations into using a private cloud. Certain countries require that the application data pertaining to people in that local market remain within the country. 

Network Latency/Performance Issues

If your users are in an area distant from a public cloud provider, latency could slow down access to business applications and make a private cloud a better option.

Choosing Your Models

Man at desk writing notes with image of cloud model

The Right Cloud Model

Once you’ve determined your use case, it becomes easier to select your cloud model: some are just better suited to one use case than another.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

SaaS supports specific business applications ranging from email to collaboration to enterprise services such as CRM (Salesforce.com) and ERP (SAP, Microsoft Dynamics).

IaaS offers on-demand processing, storage and network services to deploy any software. You don't control underlying infrastructure; your provider controls OS, storage, applications and networking components.

PaaS enables you to create and configure hosting environments to build and deploy applications. PaaS supports developers while providing little or no control over the infrastructure used.

The Right Delivery Model

No two organizations are the same, and when it comes to cloud, no one solution fits all delivery models. While one organization may benefit from pushing all of its applications and data into the public cloud, another may need a more secure solution. Yet another organization might benefit most from a hybrid model that provides connectivity between the private and public infrastructures.

Selecting the right cloud strategy can be complicated, and each organization needs to answer different questions as to what the right fit for their business is. It's essential to gather all the necessary information about each solution before determining what's best for your organization.

Which set of statements best describes you?

Public Cloud Private Cloud Hybrid Cloud

Our existing hardware is outdated and we don't want to worry about purchasing and maintaining additional hardware for new software or data systems.

We have a small (or non-existent) IT department to handle the installation, monitoring, upgrades and updates for new software.

We want internal and external users to be able to access their data from anywhere.

We require on-demand and a scalable solution as our business grows.

Our IT teams want full control of our IT infrastructure.

Our IT infrastructure teams want to optimize power as close as possible to match our exact requirements.

Our leadership team is not comfortable with the idea of data stored in shared silos.

We have complex regulations and compliance needs across multinational jurisdictions, and we want to be clear on data management.

We want the flexibility and scalability of the cloud but want to maintain some applications in a data center.

Our legal department is hesitant about using the public cloud for sensitive data, so we want advanced security on some pieces of data but standard security on others.

We have some applications that have high user connectivity that would be prohibitive if fully moved into the public cloud.

Selecting the right cloud for your organization can be challenging. Often faced with limited IT resources and budgets, IT decision makers and stakeholders are often caught between a rock and a hard place. They can either do nothing, leaving their infrastructure where it is and risking major impact from even the most minor event, or they can put forth valuable resources and budget to move to a cloud or data center provider. In an effort to help you decide how to move forward, we have developed our IT Decision Maker's Dilemma (Whitepaper). Visit the landing page to download your copy.

Common Cloud Concerns

Man in data center looking at tablet

Cloud technology has continuously evolved and is used by a wide range of organizations, from small startups to global 1000 organizations. Like all technology, cloud computing brings with it uncertainty for those unfamiliar with it.

  1. Security: For first-time cloud users, security is a significant issue and should be discussed with your provider. They’ll have resources and be able to provide details on how they are securing their systems and your data.
  2. Expertise and Resources: Even if you have in-house cloud expertise, you need a provider who can provide in-depth support on a day-to-day basis. 
  3. Compliance: Though certainly more important for compliance-heavy industries like healthcare or finance, data protection laws like GDPR require all organizations to work with a company that follows best practices.
  4. Migration and Integration: At first glance, migrations seem arduous and time-consuming. Your cloud provider should be available to help you prep for and manage the migration. This includes advising you on what apps are easily shiftable and which need to be integrated.
  5. Vendor Lock-In: This is not a new challenge in IT, but certainly must be considered with regard to the cloud. Before considering a particular cloud service, you should consider how easy it is to move your workloads from provider to provider if required.

Accelerate to the Cloud

Woman at computer at desk

  1. Efficiency / Cost Reduction
    Implementing cloud infrastructure will help you reduce CAPEX by lowering capital investments on purchasing and maintaining equipment. Additionally, you benefit from higher uptime, saving you money on fixing issues related to downtime.
  2. Data Security
    Moving to the cloud can improve how data is securely stored and handled. Cloud providers implement baseline protections for their platforms and the data they process, including authentication, access control and encryption. From there, it is your responsibility to supplement these protections with added security measures of your own to bolster cloud data protection and tighten access to sensitive information in the cloud. If you are not versed in the latest security measures, your cloud provider can assist and provide additional services around security as necessary. 
  3. Scalability
    Cloud-based solutions are ideal for organizations experiencing or expecting growth. If your organization expands, you can quickly increase your cloud capacity without having to invest in physical infrastructure. This level of flexibility can give organizations using cloud a real advantage over competitors. 
  4. Resiliency
    Working with a cloud provider can also help you with data loss prevention. A traditional on-premises approach can put your data at risk as all your data is stored locally. Despite best efforts, computers can malfunction for various reasons -- from malware and viruses to age-related hardware deterioration, to simple user error. Implementing a proper disaster recovery plan running in the cloud improves your data accessibility and reliability, even if something happens in your physical location, such as a flood, power outage, or hurricane.
  5. Competitive Edge
    Organizations adopting the cloud early often see the benefits of the move almost immediately. They receive access to emerging technologies before their competitors and are able to reduce CAPEX, enabling them to reinvest the savings in essential business functions.

Reliable Cloud Services Make a Difference

Open office with employees making decisions

Below is a real example of an organization that had a unique use case for cloud and how it was solved working with Immedion.

The Client

AidJoy is a Greenville SC, based nonprofit organization focusing on delivering high-quality multimedia journalism, web-based technology, and public relations to charities who have committed to solving dire problems in the world, helping them raise awareness and funds to support their missions. AidJoy's work results in lives saved, and cycles of poverty ended. They improve charity operations and bolster infrastructure necessary to handle the growth that comes from their robust marketing communications initiatives.

The Challenge

With its media expertise, AidJoy knows the importance of having a website that is always available and never compromised. “Our website is fundamental,” shares Founder and Executive Director Jonathan Shanin. “If our site were down, it would take away from the legitimacy of our organizations and take away from what we are trying to accomplish.” The solution also has to be robust enough to support spikes in traffic and, because AidJoy is a nonprofit, hosting a complex website has to be affordable.

Solution

Immedion engineered a secure and reliable solution built on the Immedion Public Cloud. Architected to provide the highest levels of uptime, the Immedion Public Cloud is never oversubscribed and comes with all of the resources needed. Additionally, AidJoy’s solution can easily be scaled up or down based on the organization’s needs. To help AidJoy achieve its worthwhile mission, Immedion agreed to host the AidJoy site on its cloud platform for free.

Result

For nearly ten years, Immedion has provided AidJoy with the virtual resources needed to run their organization. Immedion provides AidJoy with the advanced level of infrastructure they need to execute their mission but would have a hard time paying for on their own. “As the sites get more complex and need more bandwidth, Immedion is an ideal partner to help us. Immedion is a large part of the solution we’re striving for,” comments Shanin.

If you are interested in reading another cloud computing case study and the solution selected by Southern Diversified Distributors (SDD), check out our case study.

Solving the Cloud Migration Puzzle

Migrating data from servers to the cloud

Before you commit to moving to the cloud, you need to understand how cloud migrations work. There are six keys to a successful migration to the cloud, and when working with your cloud provider, you want to ask them how they handle these keys:

  1. Discovery
  2. Dependency
  3. Cost Analysis
  4. Verification
  5. Planning
  6. Workload Migrations

In short, your goal should be to gain a clear understanding of both the long-term and short-term costs of moving to the cloud. To learn more, download our infographic on Putting the Cloud Migration Puzzle Together.

Get Moving to the Cloud

Congratulations! Now that you know everything that's required to consider moving to the cloud, check out Immedion’s Cloud Offering.

We are excited to see your business accelerate!