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Cloud Computing Enables Business Efficiency and Cost Savings

Cloud computing systems are impacting business organizations significantly. The costs in maintaining an IT infrastructure to ensure continuous service availability within the organization is becoming complex and running costs are increasing. IT managers or executives are keenly aware of the issues in managing an IT infrastructure. Cloud computing service models provide an alternative to existing IT infrastructure in overcoming issues of IT management and as a business enabler with significant cost savings.

What is Cloud Computing?

Simply put, cloud computing is a method of providing a standard set of shared computing resources with the objective of providing ubiquitous IT services delivery. Cloud computing can be understood as an approach to a shared infrastructure in which large pool of systems are linked together in public or private networks to provide IT services. Cloud infrastructure normally consists of clusters of servers, networked storage, and related hardware with adequate fault tolerance to provide service availability. Cloud computing services focus on the user, since they decouple computing services from underlying technology resulting in extremely user friendly. The need for adopting cloud services is very much in demand by enterprise organizations, government, educational institutions, SMEs and also small organizations and individuals.

In cloud a business company can use an appropriate resource to accomplish a task and return the resource back to the pool. From the perspective of the user the technology virtually remains invisible. Cloud computing service is available for many service areas and the major services are: IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and PaaS. They are briefly given below:

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) allows users to obtain storage, networks, and basic computing resources as a service. Users can deploy systems software (an OS) on the infrastructure.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS) provide the facility to build and deploy newly developed applications on the cloud infrastructure. PaaS also has the ability to provide a computing environment and the related development and deployment stack needed to deliver a solution to the consumer.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) offers to deliver the application in which the processes are matured to run on a cloud infrastructure. The application can be accessed from clients in different locations through a web-browser. A typical example is web-based email.

The cloud computing services are available as three models namely the private cloud which is a secure infrastructure owned and used internally by an organization, like in a corporate office; the public cloud model which allows global use of resources, but the infrastructure is owned by one party, for example Gmail from Google; the other model is called the hybrid cloud which is a combination of both private and public cloud model scenarios.

Cloud models provide services that are not easily available in a normal client server based network infrastructure. The advantages of using a cloud in businesses are many. The advantages include,

  • The ability to scale up or down as the need for resources increases or decreases. This is also known as elasticity
  • Provisioning and de-provisioning of resources is automatic respectively with self-service metering
  • Centralized pooling of IT resources (storage, data and applications)
  • Billing and metering of service usage. Users can monitor their resource usage and pay for per resource or pay for each service availed.
  • Applications and services are available efficiently and without disruptions
  • Reduced costs in IT infrastructure maintenance and management

Larger enterprises have higher IT budgets and they are able to reach the global market quickly by using the internet. SMEs often face the challenge of competing with bigger enterprises and the cloud provides the much needed leverage for them to capture potential opportunities found beyond their geographical boundaries.

The Cloud Maximizes Business Performance

During the last decade, the technological advances in electronics and digital equipments have progressed rapidly resulting in massive use of hardware components to increase the operational efficiency in IT environments. This trend has invited many issues related to manageability of resources, high costs for running the equipment and power related issues for efficiently using IT infrastructure to achieve business objectives. CIOs and IT managers often come across these issues in their day-to-day working. The need to manage IT as a unified resource gave rise to cloud computing because the infrastructure is scalable, flexible, and can be managed by the users themselves. Moreover, the cloud can provide superior computing performance for business operations and market expansion without failure. This paved the way for adopting cloud computing models that are currently available from major IT and data center vendors.

      • Elasticity: In a normal client-server system the resources are fixed and are designed for certain amount of computing power, network and storage. When the need for more storage or computing power arises additional hardware is required. Similarly when the volume of transactions is low, the higher configurations and resources become redundant. In the case of a cloud, the resources are available to expand as the business data expands and can also scale down. This feature offers the availability of bandwidth, storage, etc the company can utilize the exact amount of resources required and pay for what is used.
      • Economy of Scale: Cloud computing provides the ability to allow many companies to share their best practices and technical expertise. For example, a SME may not be able to incur cost on hiring skilled personnel, but by collaborating in a cloud they may obtain this benefit without any cost.
      • Self-service and Metering: This is ideal for most companies because IT staff in a company can request the amount of resource required to fulfill the company’s needs. Cloud service providers offer an interface by which the user can request the resource, or a seat or license for one or many user(s). The user is billed for the type of resource and the number of resources used in the system.
      • Business Process Services: The cloud infrastructure can has the ability to handle repetitive business processes such as payroll processing, supply chain monitoring, automated production processes, etc. A self-service interface allows the use of this service and customization is also possible.
      • Security and Management Services: Cloud services use the same internet data-links for transferring data and they co-exist with the world-wide web. Hence it critical to protect these systems from viruses and threats related to data protection and privacy. A well-planned security strategy is mandatory for companies planning to adopt any type of cloud service.
      • Optimized IT and cost benefits: IT optimization is possible in a cloud computing because resources are configured for maximum cost-benefit. Cost benefit is high in the cloud because the cloud models supports massive scalability to meet periods of demand while avoiding extended periods of under-utilized IT capacity. Users with a mouse click can quickly expand or contract a service without requiring overhauls to the core data center. Business companies can eliminate cost on deploying and running an on-premise IT infrastructure. There is cost savings in personnel too. The other cloud benefits include low cost of ownership, which fosters higher profitability, enabling a business to more easily reinvest in their business expansion programs.
      • Collaboration Services: With the cloud it is easy to collaborate because of its ability to use networks on the internet. The cloud platform can collaborate between employees, partners, businesses and customers in different locations. Social business collaboration is quickly gaining popularity. This service enables companies to collaborate with the right experts at the right time to achieve business goals.

The services mentioned above are broad in nature and available with any cloud service. Companies that rely heavily on the internet to expand their business and retain customers require better performing IT systems where cloud computing service is an ideal option. SMEs derive many attractive benefits by using the cloud service because adopting an appropriate model for their business is proved to drastically reduce their IT infrastructure and resource costs. An SME can simply deploy an application in the cloud and avoid the costs of managing the application (namely IT staff, storage, hardware, network, etc). Further, the application running on a cloud is highly efficient and available 24×7 without break downs, resulting in customer retention and a happy user experience.

Data Center Infrastructure is the key to Cloud Service Availability

Cloud computing services are basically provisioned in data centers. Organisations while planning to adopt cloud computing systems must ensure to evaluate the data center which provides the underling foundation and infrastructures for a cloud service model. Tier 4 standard data centers are ideal for clouds because they provide adequate redundancy and fault tolerance to ensure service uptime and zero data loss which is important for cloud service availability.

Widespread interest in cloud computing systems among IT circles is fostering the evolution of different infrastructure models, service levels, and application platforms. Basically cloud computing is a model or infrastructure that provisions resources dynamically and makes them available as services over the internet. Cloud models and services can be accessed by organisations by availing resources as appropriate to satisfy their IT needs. Cloud service levels include Infrastructure as a service (IaaS), Platform as a service (PaaS) and Software as a service (SaaS). Cloud computing models are classified as three major types’ namely private clouds, public clouds and hybrid clouds.

Cloud service infrastructures have the ability to scale up or down in terms of storage, compute, and network depending on usage. Organisations view the cloud as a viable alternative to outsource their entire IT infrastructure primarily due to cost savings in terms of capital and operational expenditure. Many organisations have adopted CtrlS cloud model(s) in their business operations and are able to realize business advantage. Cloud computing services are available with Data Centers (DC) in different variants to fulfill organizational business needs. An organisation planning for adopting cloud computing model for their IT operations must ensure to critically understand the architecture of DC from where cloud model is availed.

The key criteria for evaluation include:

  • The underlying infrastructure
  • Redundancies
  • Connectivity
  • Uptime
  • SLAs
  • Services
  • These six areas must be considered by organisations from the perspective of cloud capabilities for continuous service availability and reliability. The above criteria are explained in a bit more detail to provide further understanding on existing cloud capabilities available with CtrlS Data Centers.

    The underlying infrastructure of DC plays an important role in cloud computing because when business grows the infrastructure has to accommodate increasing volumes of data and network traffic. The increasing surge in online transactions both by users and businesses require a cloud infrastructure to handle high volume data growth in terms of storage, network and processing. Most organisations have stringent policies on data privacy. CtrlS Data Centers offers private cloud models for businesses and organisations. Private cloud models offer fully secured data network with robust security features to protect information from falling into wrong hands. The cloud infrastructure is fully flexible, it allows users (organisations) to provision and monitor their resources themselves with automated metering service. CtrlS DC infrastructure is fully equipped to handle high volumes of data and perform complex processing on them without affecting efficiency and performance for users.

    Redundancy in DC is a measure of fault tolerance and also classifies the data center standard. DC standards are basically classified between Tier 1 to Tier 4 standards depending on their power capacities and their ability to quickly restore operations in the event of outage or in the event of component failure. CtrlS data center operations handle lot of mission critical data used by enterprise organizations. Hence the infrastructure cannot afford to experience any type of systems failure. CtrlS DC is built to fulfill Tier 4 standard where each component in the data center is provided with adequate backup components thus ensuring zero outage. Tier 4 data centers have the ability to respond automatically to any kind of failure or hardware malfunction. Hence failure on any one component does not affect other components in the infrastructure thus ensuring zero data loss and zero downtime. Organisations desiring to adopt cloud computing must check for redundancy in DC which has an effect on cloud service availability. Availability is a critical business need.

    Connectivity refers to the network connections on how the components are connected with each other to send and receive data in the DC. DCs are driven by consolidation, virtualization and adaptive architectures that enable flexible visions such as IT as a service, cloud computing and autonomic computing. I/O is a key differentiator because connectivity encompasses many components such as switches, routers, gateways and backbone networks and is measured in terms of throughput and bandwidth. CtrlS cloud models are virtualized to support Ethernet and Fiber channels while each virtual machine (VM) is viewed independently for its configuration. VMs are stored in centralized storage which separates the VM from a single physical server. In order to support multiple VMs in the data center the network infrastructure must provide reliable, flexible and secure data transport. CtrlS data centers are equipped with switching architectures to deliver low latency, throughput and high speed inter connects to support cloud models for efficient transport between servers, storage and end users.

    CtrlS DC is built on Tier 4 standards to ensure fault tolerance and provide guaranteed 99.99% data center uptime. This is an important Service Level Agreement (SLA) metric in terms of service availability and quality of service guarantee. SLAs are defined for the services available in cloud computing models. The user (organisation) may choose the right amount of resources in the cloud and adhere to the corresponding SLAs that define with each resource. For example, SLAs are defined specifically for resources such as storage space, backup, network bandwidth, number of VMs used, etc. SLAs that define security, data privacy, firewalls, uptime, etc are common to all users. The organisation must ensure to define SLAs to be specific, measurable, achievable and timely and most importantly there must be no room for any ambiguity for both cloud service provider and users. CtrlS SLAs are defined to revolve around performance metrics that meet business needs for users availing cloud services.

    CtrlS DC provide additional services and features that include different levels of security, firewalls and intrusion detection systems to mitigate any types of attacks and intrusions. This ensures the entire cloud model fully secure. Further users availing cloud models from CtrlS benefit from a wide range of services such as automated monitoring, UI for resource provisioning, zero downtime, zero CapEx (capital expenditure), etc. Tier 4 standards provide the much needed fault tolerance to ensure high availability at all times.

    Data centers are the foundation for clouds. They provide the underlying infrastructure for clouds to run. Data centers are built with thousands of servers, storage disks, switches, routers and other components to provide security, virtualization and application resilience. In a cloud models users normally look for scalability, reliability and service availability at all times. CtrlS cloud is available for enterprises either big or small. Organisations availing the cloud can benefit immensely in terms of speed and efficiency to generate business value.