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What cloud computing can offer you

If you’re running any sort of business that relies on data structures or web management, there’s no denying the asset that cloud computing can provide, says Jack Mizzi, chief marketing and business development officer at BMIT.

Cloud computing really is an easy concept to grasp, but let’s go with the analogy route to make it even easier. In the old days, farms and factories needed to generate their own power either through windmills or water wheels. This all changed thanks to power grids, as businesses could just tap into the grid and pay for the power they use, avoiding all costs related to building the power-generating infrastructure.

A good cloud computing provider is essentially that power grid – it’s a one-stop means of getting all sorts of hosted services online. That means that if you require a range of services such as web hosting, data storage and backup, creating your own virtual machines, collaborative tools and business intelligence solution features, and more, you can get them all through a cloud computing services provider.

As they say, the best things come in threes, and cloud computing is no exception to this maxim. Cloud computing can follow a private model, a public one, or a hybrid of the two. As you can imagine, each type comes with its own distinct advantages and is best suited for different scenarios. We’ll go into the specific differences between all three models.

Public cloud services are generally offered through the internet, by way of companies selling infrastructure, applications or storage options that you can pay for on a pay-per-use model, for example per hour or in bundles of bandwidth consumption.

The big advantage here is that public clouds are generally more cost-effective, making them an excellent choice for small and medium-sized businesses. The caveat, though, is that users do not get to oversee the management of the underlying infrastructure that is storing their data, so the element of trust needs to be considerably higher as there’s less direct assurance that your data is being managed the way it should be.

Of course, when you’re dealing with very reputable companies that offer public cloud services, there shouldn’t be any reason for distrust.

Something else which you should expect with regard to public clouds is that they’re often much less customisable overall – you’re generally dealing with one-size-fits-all packages, and you can select which services from that package appeal to you the most. Whether this is a positive or negative factor depends entirely on what your operation is and what your outlook on the whole issue is.

Some people actually enjoy the fact that public clouds are less fussy in that regard and it makes it much easier for companies to get moving with tried and tested services, as opposed to having to undergo processes to test how well-optimised a service is for their individual business.

Cloud computing can follow a private model, a public one, or a hybrid of the two

Private clouds are defined by their added security and personalisation. Usually designed with specific businesses in mind, private clouds are the ultimate for tailor-made solutions.

Are private clouds, then, a step up from public clouds? Again, it really depends on what your needs are as a company. If you’re running a larger business, it might be easy to feel weighed down by the limits of public clouds. Private clouds give you very similar features, such as self-service and scalability, but with even more independence.

Let’s put it another way. With public clouds, it’s like using a bus. You don’t have much say in how it looks or how it drives, but it gets you from point A to point B. With private clouds, you’re renting a car, and you get to decide whether you need a hatchback or an SUV. You’re in total control except for the fact that you didn’t fork out the money upfront to buy the car.

Plus, some of the features available with private clouds are just not an option with public clouds. Take BMIT’s load balancing service, for example, which was designed to counteract the pitfalls of high volumes of traffic, particularly when running multiple private cloud servers. It’s an effective way of distributing this traffic and thus ensuring that no single device gets overloaded. As a result, devices run smoother and performances is improved all round – with your devices as well as your business.

The hybrid cloud approach is the best of both worlds – but why would a company need to take this route.

Think about it this way: if you adopt a hybrid model, you can use the private cloud features for particularly sensitive or classified data, or run your most mission-critical workloads through it, and use the public clouds for less pressing jobs or jobs were added scalability is required.

In addition, hybrid clouds are excellent when disaster recovery or cloud-bursting is needed. In other words, situations in which a company will need to very quickly transfer data or operation to another server, but can’t afford to make use of multiple private cloud servers.

If you’re running any sort of business that relies on data structures or web management of any kind, there’s really no denying the asset that cloud computing can provide to your operation. For flexibility, customisability, and ease-of-use, there’s nothing as flexible and scalable that will help you reach the standards expected today.

The fact that there are so many different faces to cloud computing might initially seem overwhelming, but really should be seen as an excellent way of ensuring that your company gets exactly what it needs to oversee the smooth running of its operation. There’s no better or worse here – there’s only what’s right for you, so the idea shouldn’t be to go for the most expensive option just for the sake of it.

Contact BMIT, Malta’s largest multi-site data centre services provider, to find out how your business stands to benefit from the various cloud computing options available.

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