Once you have a solid understanding of how “the cloud” works and the benefits of using the cloud for your information infrastructure, there are a few more terms you should become acquainted with. The cloud is not one-size-fits-all, not flawless, and has one constant and major requirement for its use.
Hybrid cloud allows businesses to enjoy the best of both worlds: data and software both on premises and in the cloud. We can utilize the high speeds of our local area networks (LAN), while extending or eliminating the network border through the use of cloud services. There are multiple layers of hybrid cloud services, and each business can take a unique approach to how and when to utilize each service. For example:
- Email & IM can be utilized in the cloud, while line-of-business applications can be run on premise with a cloud backup option
- Data storage can reside on a local SAN or NAS while still allowing access to data and services remotely and securely through the cloud or data can be replicated fully through the cloud provider
- Mobile and remote workers no longer require VPN connections to access what they need, keeping your network more secure
The term “high availability” means, in simple terms, that one doesn’t have to “take down the server” in order to do maintenance on the software or the data on the server. That is no longer the job of your IT department at your location. Rather, it is the job of the data center engineers.
That change of responsibility means that all systems remain available during maintenance. It also means that your software, services, and data remain available in the event of a power outage at your physical location. In other words, your customers all over the country or all over the world do not suffer when your power goes out.
It also means no more having to do maintenance after hours or on weekends. Because the cloud is, by definition, redundant to multiple servers in multiple locations, changes and updates can be made in real time.
As nice as “sunny day” sounds, in cloud-speak, it’s not good. In “cloud speak”, a sunny day is when you can’t “see the cloud.” See? Sounds good, right? It’s not. The one thing that is 100% absolutely necessary and cannot be excluded from any and all cloud deployments is a solid internet connection. No internet access means no cloud access. No internet access means you can’t see the cloud.
Your cloud deployment is only as good as your internet connection. The more you use the cloud, the more internet bandwidth you need to access your cloud data and services. Sometimes, slow internet access can be worse, or at least more frustrating, than no internet access.
Also, going completely to the Cloud does not mean there are no outages. Data centers are very secure, and are designed to be highly available. However, even Amazon, the largest cloud services provider in the world, has experienced severe downtime over the last few years.
Finally, if you’ve made the move into the cloud, migrating back to your on premises computing environment is not as easy as moving to the cloud. There are many factors, not the least of which is technical architecture, that contribute to this difficulty. Also, many cloud service providers contracts stipulate that the cloud services provider owns any data stored on its services. Make sure your legal counsel reviews cloud services contracts before you begin a cloud migration.
Is the cloud right for your organization? Most likely, at least some form of cloud computing can serve any organization well. But the cloud is not one size fits all, nor is it 100% guaranteed for everyone. Like any technical deployment, experience is the best teacher.