What is the Cloud and it's uses?

The cloud is mentioned everywhere these days.  It's technically been around for decades, but there's still some confusion to some on what it means at times to some businesses.  There's also confusion as to how the cloud can help businesses and what are the practical uses.

The cloud is services, software and sites that are available on the internet (whether you're hosting them or not).  Anyone can host items in the cloud.  There are extremely reliable platforms (AWS/Azure) however that take the stress and hardware costs out of the equation.

The real question is what can the cloud be used for and how can you use it to keep your business lean, leverage resources and scale and operate effectively.

What's that mean?

There's plenty of mention of public, private and hybrid clouds.  But seriously, what's that mean?

  • Public Cloud - Cloud provided by 3rd party such as Amazon Web Services, Azure and any host.
  • Private Cloud - Cloud provided by a business itself (i.e you host your own cloud at another location).
  • Hybrid - A mixture of public/private cloud.  You host your own and also pay AWS/provider for additional services.

What the Cloud can mean to Businesses

Sure it's the IN cloud, but what can you do with it?

Practical Use

Common Example:

SaaS or Subscription-as-a-Service products (Specific Solutions)

All site based platforms such as CRMs, ERP's, file-sharing, and other business apps.

SaaS products are typically aimed at filling a specific need, industry or vertical.  Task and project management, security, file sharing, practice management, and the list goes on.  There is a never ending list of options for every space.

  • Office 365
  • Dropbox
  • Any pay per month app

Industry Specific Business Platforms

Most industry specific applications such as those used for manufacturing, engineering, professional services and most other industries typically offer an on-premise version or a cloud version.  On-premise means you host the platform on your own servers or your own cloud.

  • Deltek
  • Epicor
  • Infor

No Physical Servers

Many companies have physical servers on-site to manage tasks such as file and printer management, group policy, user administration, security control and other important tasks.  These can be placed in the cloud so there's no worry about a hardware failure (which will happen).  Must have dual internet for maximum up-time.

  • Active Directory Server
  • Microsoft Exchange Server
  • File or Print Server

No Traditional Desktop Computers

Desktops for everyone used to be the standard method.  But parts break and this leads to downtime when they have to be serviced.  It also can lead to data failure.  Too many people store crucial data in their Desktop or Documents.  Virtual desktops give you the same Windows experience you're used to, just out of a tiny box!

  • Zero/No clients
  • Thin client

Backup and Disaster Recovery

If you have servers or data on-site at the office, you can utilize the cloud to create added backup and restore options.  Pushing your data off-site to another location (private or public cloud), you can enhance your businesses ability to continue work in the event of a disaster.  Also it creates another repository to restore files from in events of errors and mistakes.

  • File Backup & Restore
  • Server backup
  • Ransomware Protection
  • Off-site backup replication

Development and Testing

Developing your own internal platforms or products and need a test bed?  Instead of using in-house servers, it's extremely easy to provision and utilize cloud services to provision as many servers or resources as needed, for as long as needed.  In the pay as you go model, you can make development and testing extremely cost effective.

  • Office 365
  • Dropbox

Identification and Credential Management

How do you manage user accounts on your company provided laptops, mobile devices and other computers.  Every company needs the basic ability to be able to control and secure their equipment and data.   With cloud identity solutions, you can control all devices from anywhere, and integrate with any on-site identity management resources.

  • Active Directory
  • Okta
  • Centrify