Cloud technologies are no longer a fashion trend, but the reality of the computing infrastructure of any business. According to a study by Rightscale, 94% of the 786 IT professionals surveyed use the cloud. Cloud computing has become available for both large corporations and small businesses. The latter choose fast SaaS services, while corporate customers are building a complete IaaS infrastructure in the cloud provider. Public cloud has been implemented by 91% of respondents, but companies are not in a hurry to refuse from a private cloud – 72% of respondents have built and are using local infrastructure.
From On-Premise Solutions To The Public Cloud
Any company has IT equipment – user’s PC and laptops, office equipment, and a pool of server equipment. All this in a whole forms an IT infrastructure. The most simple and familiar variant of the IT infrastructure organization is on-premise, that is organized directly on a local server.
Once we install a hypervisor on the server, set up a pool of virtual machines, provide network security, create user access policies, set up a unified system of management and provision of cloud services, we get a “private cloud” – a cloud infrastructure fully isolated and used by only one company.
When your own computing resources become insufficient or the cost of maintaining and upgrading them exceeds your budget, the infrastructure is moved to the public cloud.
Each of the solutions has its advantages and disadvantages, as well as its specific technical aspects. Which cloud to choose? Let’s analyze the basic criteria.
The traditional variant of IT infrastructure, which system administrators still choose. Even before the mass development of the Internet, installing a server with software and connecting users to it via a local network, solved the problems of collaboration. This option has its advantages:
- The ability to use a diverse stock of equipment. The client can install servers, storage systems and network equipment of any performance and brand. Each device has its own task, tailored to the available capacities.
- Low access delays. The closer the computing core is to the consumer, the lower the delay in data transmission. Modern communication channels between the remote data center and the customer provide very high levels of reliability and speed, but the local infrastructure will always win.
- Monitoring and control. The local IT infrastructure monitoring and management system provides the highest level of control, and in case of a critical situation, you can solve the problem in-house.
- Security. For many companies data security is of the highest priority. Storage and processing of personal data, as well as working with confidential information, requires special control and technical means of security. Local systems can meet these requirements with minimal investment.
The disadvantages of on-premise solutions include significant capital costs, longer implementation compared to cloud solutions, and the need for full self-monitoring and management which requires professional skills and knowledge.
This is the most common option for organizing cloud infrastructure. Cloud provider owns the entire computing infrastructure – servers, storage and networks. Customers can simply rent the necessary resources. Cloud provider is fully responsible for all equipment, configures the virtualization system, installs the necessary software, monitors and controls security, establishes access rights. Service Level Agreement (SLA) is signed with a client, which specifies the responsibility of provider for delivering poor quality cloud services. Public cloud has many advantages compared to on-premise solution, although it is not entirely free of drawbacks.
- Less capital expenditure. There is no need to buy hardware and software, payment is made only for actually consumed services.
- Quick start. Customers receive computing resources as soon as the contract is signed. This is especially convenient for developers.
- High reliability. Virtual IaaS infrastructure is designed and maintained by highly qualified specialists. Special technologies of clustering, fault tolerance, load distribution are also applied, so that in case of failure of one of the nodes the system remains stable and fast.
- Scalability. Additional resources are available instantly on demand.
- No need for infrastructure maintenance. Customers receive a ready-made solution, its creation and maintenance – the task of the cloud provider. This simplifies the work of IT-department and reduces the number of staff.
The minuses of the public cloud are mostly based on mistrust and stereotypes. Modern security features guarantee a high level of data security, and redundancy of communication channels provides fast and smooth access to the virtual infrastructure. Trust towards a cloud provider is a key parameter to be assessed when choosing a public cloud to host your information systems.
With this method of IT infrastructure organization, the cloud is deployed for a specific customer. Unlike the public cloud, where all clients share resources, in a private cloud, they belong to only one company. Private cloud can be housed both in the company’s own machine room and in a rented rack in provider’s data center. This is the customer’s responsibility to create and maintain private cloud.
Unlike on-premise solutions, all private cloud hardware is managed by a single virtualization platform. Just as in a public cloud, computing resources are managed by creating virtual machines to which administrators and users have access. It is quite important to make a right choice of virtualization platform – the reliability and performance of private cloud will depend on how well it aggregates all physical resources.
The private cloud solution is chosen for its flexibility – the ability to adapt to any business need, high scalability and maximum security. Deploying public cloud is not possible for a number of business activities. For example if your business deals with personal data processing and must comply with the requirements regulators, if the commercial secret of the company must be stored and processed only locally, if the cloud provider cannot organize compliance with laws in terms of personal data storage.
Additionally, the private cloud is chosen to minimize data transmission delays – public networks cannot compete with local networks in terms of speed.
The way to organize the IT infrastructure depends first on the specifics of the company and the task to be done. A public cloud allows working with virtual machines quickly and with minimum expenses, a private cloud provides the highest level of security and access speed, while on-premise solution does not impose requirements to hardware and software.