Cloud Computing Management: All You Ever Wanted to Ask

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Cloud computing got its name from the old telecom network schematics. What was later to be known as the internet was often represented as a cloud of “stuff.” 

The initial concept of computing-as-a-service goes as far back as the 1960s. Computer bureaus used to rent out mainframe time to companies. Later, owning a computer became much more affordable and accessible, resulting in corporate data centers. In the 1990s and early 2000s, service providers, utility computing, and grid computing became unavoidable. This advancement in technology led to the more common term and service we now know as “cloud computing.” 

What is Cloud Technology?

Cloud computing technology is the delivery of hosted cloud-based services over the internet. These services can include servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence. Cloud computing offers faster innovation and flexible resources while being generally provided on a pay-as-you-go basis. Data and cloud-based applications can either be created in a cloud or transferred to one. 

Therefore, you don’t need to have your computing infrastructure (hardware and operating systems) or data centers in-house. Your company can rent access to applications, storage, and other resources directly from a cloud vendor.

Take Advantage of Cloud Computing

Without realizing it, many of the online services you are currently using are made possible by cloud computing. These services include sending web-based emails, streaming online movies or TV, listening to music, playing games, and storing pictures or other files. Although the concept of cloud computing cloud services is still relatively young, a variety of organizations already use it for different reasons. Here are some examples of possible cloud solutions that cloud adoption can provide:

  • You can exploit technologies and approaches to create cloud-native web, mobile, or API applications. Technologies include containers, DevOps, microservices architecture, and API-driven communication.
  • By using cloud infrastructures, you can scale up or down effortlessly, allowing you to cut costs and save time on application development.
  • You can store, back up, and recover data by using cloud-based solutions. Transfer your data over the internet to an off-site cloud storage system that you can then access from anywhere, on any device.
  • Cloud services, such as machine learning, can help to analyze data by unifying your data over teams, divisions, and locations. 
  • You can connect with your audience globally by streaming audio or video. 
  • By making use of SaaS and its service-orientated architecture, the latest software versions and updates can be distributed to your customers anytime, anywhere, via a web-based service. 

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The Primary Benefits of Cloud Computing Management

Cloud computing has changed the way we think about IT resources. Here are some of the advantages of cloud solutions:

Cost Cuts

Think back to a time of tons of servers running through an on-site data center. Then consider the expense of power and cooling systems and having IT experts manage the network infrastructure. Times have certainly changed. Cloud computing eliminates these expenses and also saves on buying hardware and software. You only pay for what you use.

Saved Time

As most cloud computing services are on-demand and self-service, they can speed things up considerably. You can access and receive resources with just a few clicks.

Global Availability

You have the flexibility to expand or reduce your investment, depending on current needs. IT resources are delivered from anywhere, anytime.

Maximized Productivity

With cloud computing providers taking care of the maintenance and infrastructure, your IT team can focus on more important business goals.

Constant Updates

Cloud computing service providers are continually updating their networks of secure data centers. A continuously updated network guarantees fast, efficient computing hardware to support your business needs while remaining off-site.

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Peace of Mind

Backing up data and disaster recovery are made more accessible and more economical through cloud computing. Policies, technologies, and controls protect your data, apps, and infrastructure.

Transfer Flexibility

The infrastructure allows you to move work from one cloud to another, or even to a different cloud platform. 

Cloud Computing Management

Cloud Service Categories

Most cloud computing services branch into three broad categories: IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. Since these categories build on top of one another, it is sometimes called the cloud computing “stack.”

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

The most basic category, IaaS, is an instant IT infrastructure that is rented and managed over the internet. The framework includes virtual servers and virtual machines (VMs), cloud storage, networks, and operating systems. A cloud computing service provider, such as Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services (AWS), manages this for you. You control the purchase, installation, configuration, and management of your software. The software includes operating systems, middleware, and applications. 

In addition, the IaaS platform functions on a pay-as-you-go basis where you only pay for what you use. You have access to a virtual server, storage, and an API, enabling you to migrate information to your allocated storage. From there, you can access, configure, and modify the VM and storage at your leisure. IaaS gives you the highest level of flexibility and control over your IT workloads.

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Platform as a Service (PaaS)

With PaaS, there is no need for you to manage the server infrastructure, storage, network, and databases. As an on-demand cloud environment, PaaS is designed to support the complete lifecycle of web applications: from development, testing, delivering, and managing, to updating of software applications. 

After purchasing the resources from the service provider, you can access these tools and resources over the internet. It allows you to be more efficient in general cloud-based software development, simple cloud-based apps, and more sophisticated cloud-enabled enterprise applications. It also lets you manage the applications and services you develop while the cloud vendor manages the rest.

With PaaS, you can avoid the expense of buying software licenses, application infrastructure, middleware, container orchestrators, development tools, and other resources.

Click here for a closer look at some of the top PaaS providers of 2019.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Unlike IaaS and PaaS, you receive completed cloud-based software applications that you can access over the internet. Web-based Software and products are provided via an on-demand service and usually through a subscription. The provider will host and manage all aspects of these software applications. The provider also handles the maintenance of the servers, operating systems, and elements such as software upgrades.

Microsoft, Salesforce, Oracle Cloud, and SAP are some of the leading SaaS providers.

Click here to have a look at some of the top business apps available.

Other Cloud Service Models

“Back-end” as a service (BaaS)

BaaS allows you to outsource all the back-end aspects of web or mobile applications. With this, you only need to write and maintain the frontend. BaaS supplies pre-written software such as user authentication, remote updating, database management, and push notifications. You also receive cloud storage and hosting.

Function as a service (FaaS)

FaaS is a cloud service that aids in serverless app development and management. Servers are hosted externally, allowing you to focus on programming and other tasks. FaaS only runs when conducting a function, setting it apart from other cloud-based computing models.

Serverless computing

Serverless computing is the act of providing you with computing resources in the form of expandable cloud services. With serverless computing, you only pay for the service you use while actively making use of the server. 

The Different Deployment Models of Cloud Computing

Since cloud-based computing came to light, various models, types, and services have changed how you can implement cloud services.

Public Cloud

All hardware, software, and supporting infrastructure are owned and operated by cloud service providers. Public clouds deliver their computing resources over the internet, where you can access services and manage your account by using a web browser. Depending on your needs, public cloud services may be sold on-demand or through long-term commitments. You will only pay for the bandwidth, storage, or CPU cycles used. 

Leading providers of public cloud services include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft, Google Cloud, and IBM.

Due to the occupation of many users on the network, some enterprises are concerned about the security of a public cloud. Cloud security services and technologies are available. These may include encryption, identity management, and access management tools. It is your responsibility to implement security measures to protect your data. A shared-responsibility model helps determine which factors of security fall to which party – the enterprise or the provider.

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Private Cloud

This is also known as an “on-premises” cloud. Dedicated computing resources are used exclusively by a single business or organization. A private cloud can be conveniently located on-site on a private network. At an additional cost, a third-party provider can also host your cloud if you choose. 

If you find public clouds inadequate, inappropriate, or risky for your business needs, it is wise to switch to a private cloud. When properly implemented, it provides much of the same benefits as a public cloud. The difference is that the services, infrastructure, and security are managed and maintained in-house and delivered to internal users on demand. You would typically need an IT team to manage, update, and modify the underlying infrastructure. This means budgeting of the company funds will be necessary. 

That said, you will probably have more expenses when using a private cloud. Where public clouds are on a pay-as-you-go basis, private clouds come with deployment, acquisition, support, and maintenance costs. By using WAN and implementing chargeback, you can keep track of usage and pay only for the resources and services you use.

Commonly used private cloud technologies are VMware and OpenStack. 

Hybrid Cloud

As the name suggests, a hybrid cloud combines public and private clouds. It connects the existing infrastructure, applications, and resources on-site with those on a cloud. While they are still operating as two separate entities, you can share data and applications between the private and public clouds. For maximum control, hybrid clouds can be designed to fit your specific storage, computing, and workload needs.

A hybrid cloud allows more deployment options and flexibility in optimizing your existing infrastructure, security, and compliance. When private and public clouds are combined, it allows more capacity or computing power. Hybrid clouds help to alleviate cloud bursting when your storage demands exceed the private cloud capacity. You have the option of adding and removing additional cloud services. You can save on the cost of the cloud by deploying added cloud services during peak business times and reducing during off-peak.

Due to the cost involved in setting up private servers, maintenance, and time, the hybrid cloud option could be quite expensive. Smaller companies might benefit more, on a financial level, from using public clouds. 

Due to hybrid clouds having a larger attack surface, another concern is security and privacy. You can increase cloud security by choosing the storage location of your data. Your private cloud can remain behind a firewall while only using the public cloud as needed. 

Multi-Cloud

Providers are continually developing their services in the cloud market, and different vendors specialize in various products. Consequently, organizations and developers are progressively moving towards using multiple cloud service vendors. 

Multi-cloud is the utilization of a diverse array of cloud services, both private and public, as well as IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS from different providers. By using multi-cloud, you get to pick and choose components from different vendors to best suit your needs. As multi-cloud deployment could be complicated, we recommend that you use cloud management platforms. 

Although Google Drive, Salesforce, and Cloudflare are popular providers, they do not support workloads associated with cloud computing work. 

One of the main benefits of the multi-cloud strategy is decreasing the risk of having to use disaster recovery. It also adds to saving costs by replacing your on-site data center with cloud services. You will find a variety of specialized services and competitive pricing from different vendors. Often, developing integrations between clouds could cost more than the possible savings of implementing these integrations.

How Do You Choose a Cloud Service Provider?

It is essential to look at reliability and capability when choosing a cloud computing services provider. You are, after all, entrusting it with your applications and data. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Your cloud provider should operate successfully over the long term. Take a look at its history concerning financial health and stability.
  • Look for a provider with a formal management structure. It should have established risk management policies and processes in place. Through a Service level agreement (SLA), the provider should be able to guarantee a basic level of service with which you are comfortable.
  • You must approve of the company, its partners, and its principles. Read reviews to determine their reputation and speak to other customers in similar situations to yours. 
  • The provider should understand your business and requirements. Its technical capabilities and competence should be able to match your specific needs.
  • Your provider should supply you with performance reports. A third-party audit must also validate the provider’s compliance with your requirements.
  • Your provider should track the resources provided and any changes made to its system.
  • The provider should have an automated billing process and support platform in place. In this way, it monitors the resources you use and the cost.

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Cloud Computing Management

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What About Technical Capabilities and Processes?

With regards to technical capabilities and processes, look for the following when choosing a cloud provider:

  • Each cloud provider should have systems in place that ease deployment, management, and upgrading of your software and applications. 
  • Standard interfaces, APIs, and data transform should be in place to make building connections to the cloud easier.
  • It should integrate a formal event management system with the monitoring or management system.
  • All formal processes, such as requesting, logging, approving, testing, and accepting changes, should be documented.
  • Does your provider have hybrid capabilities? Initially, you might not plan to make use of a hybrid cloud, but it has advantages that you may want to use later.

Security Practices

When entrusting your data and applications to a cloud provider, security should be a primary concern.

  • A comprehensive security framework for all levels and types of cloud services should be in place.
  • It should have security policies and procedures for controlling access to the provider and customer systems.
  • Authentication should be required when any authorized personnel make changes to your cloud applications or data.
  • There should be policies and procedures that ensure the integrity of your data. These include data backup and retention.
  • There must be control over the physical security of data and hardware.
  • The provider should have environmental safeguards in place in the event of disruptions. The equipment and data should be protected, and disaster recovery and business continuity plans must apply.

Where to From Here?

There are many resources and cloud computing providers out there. If you’ve already made use of cloud services, what worked or didn’t work for you? Consider your company’s needs and do your research before settling on a provider. 

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