Nicola Brown, sales director at Central Networks and Technologies, discusses the pros and cons of public cloud and on-premise IT systems
The Coronavirus pandemic has accelerated technological change, with the move to remote working causing a paradigm shift in the way that we utilise computing resources.
But how can a business keep up with these ever-evolving changes?
There is a myriad of options out there in terms of IT infrastructure, making it difficult to know which platform would be the most advantageous for your business.
The answer typically lies in the functionality you want to prioritise, such as elasticity, security, speed of service, as well as the consumption model itself.
Whilst there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer — each business will have its own bespoke needs and challenges — it is important to note what functionalities are available and the main benefits and drawbacks of each.
This type of delivery is exactly as it appears: computing resource is installed and based at the location of the organisation, such as an office space or other facility.
This is the traditional model that organisations have used to provide their computing platform, and delivers a private cloud model.
- Maintaining an on-premise environment means that the business controls the cost of the platform, with a one-off initial payment for hardware and equipment
- The system is non-tenanted, and can only be accessed by known and approved personnel, providing more security management to assigned users
- The owner has authority over the system configuration, such as the hardware and software, as well as any updates or changes as necessary to further streamline processes
- On-site resources remove the reliance of internet connectivity when it comes to accessing large volumes of data. This is necessary for cloud platforms and is usually provided by a third-party, which can’t always guarantee 100% uptime
- Infrastructure that is based on-site usually requires a large capital outlay to begin with, so that businesses can invest in all the equipment and software that is required from the get-go
- The owner is solely responsible for the maintenance of the system, including patch management, updates, and security. This requires expertise
- It can take much longer to implement an on-premise system than it does to onboard to cloud services due to delivery and installation schedules etc
- The model is inflexible for businesses which experience rapidly changing requirements due to fluctuating demand
Public cloud systems
Public cloud computing is the on-demand availability of accessing IT resources remotely, and is usually provided to the end user via a vendor such as Microsoft Azure or Amazon AWS.
It is accessed via an internet connection, although it is possible to deliver direct connectivity into these datacenters, for example through MS ExpressRoute.
A public cloud system is shared with other customers operating on a multitenancy basis, where two or more organisations are accessing the same resources.
Public cloud options are usually subscription-based and have service level agreements in place that guarantee uptimes of 99% plus.
- For those with fluctuating demand, or that need to be able to scale at speed, resources within public cloud service can be tiered up quickly without the need to wait for hardware delivery. It can then also be scaled down, on a pay-for-use basis
- The use of accredited datacentres — such as Microsoft Azure for public cloud hosting — mean uninterruptable power as well as other requirements such as cooling systems. This allows organisations to concentrate on their business, whilst leaving these concerns to the provider
- Service level agreements offered typically guarantee 99% uptime and beyond, although as with private cloud, care must be taken to ensure the correct resiliency and backup options are in place
- Cloud service providers can also offer analytics for the environment, enabling a good management overview and the ability to monitor resource use, as well as proactively address server issues
- Unpredictable costing models — especially if there is frequent fluctuation in resource use, as well as a high degree of management to control billing
- Depending on the provider, you may not be able to examine the underlying hardware available. Additionally, if the public cloud route is chosen, organisations will have to share infrastructure with other businesses
- Some software providers may not support the cloud services that you have purchased, so it is important to research this in the first instance
- Connectivity needs to be carefully considered
A hybrid approach allows for some IT resourcing to be based on-premise – such as business critical data that requires a static environment – while some resources are available in public cloud.
It is often used in situations where organizations are seeking to leverage the advantages of both approaches.
- It allows for the fully owned security of an on-premise or private cloud solution for sensitive data and operations, whilst still having the scalability option by having public cloud resources for those systems that need them
- Hybrid solutions are also beneficial for disaster recovery plans, with the environment on a private server ready to deploy to public cloud services in the event of a crisis — securing business continuity
- A hybrid approach can be the ideal model to test a full public cloud model safely, before workload is migrated full time
- It can be costly to set-up, not just hardware costs for the on-premise server or private cloud solution, but also the time to implement and manage the system to ensure it is fit-for-purpose
- Management overhead can increase whilst both types of environment are maintained
The systems that you put in place will be entirely dependent on the way that you intend to use it.
It is important to make sure that your IT infrastructure strategy is comprehensive, so that you have the right type of resources for your organisation, ensuring operational efficiencies and business continuity, while providing the flexibility your business needs to grow in the future and adapt to change.
Image: ra2 studio/Shutterstock
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