Why Use a Cloud Based Service?

The cloud. By now you have heard it discussed and probably understand what it means. (It’s a set of remote servers, hosted online that are used to store, manage, and process data, rather than on a local server or your personal computer.) That sounds great, but why should you use it over your local server or computer? What’s the big deal? By utilizing cloud based services, your organization can focus resources on improving business rather than on maintaining your IT infrastructure. Cloud based services offer more flexibility, reliability, and security while keeping overhead minimal and reducing costs. Below are the key benefits associated with cloud services. 1 - Test Driving Cloud Servers Organizations traditionally required large upfront investments in hardware to get their applications running. No matter how well you plan your hardware requirements, there is always a degree of uncertainty which cannot be avoided. Are you overspending on unnecessary hardware? Are you buying underpowered hardware?

The beauty of cloud computing resides in the ease with which you can rapidly test different hardware configurations in a matter of minutes. By test driving your servers, you confidently decide on appropriate resources without all the guesswork. If you ever outgrow your current resources, upgrading can be accomplished in a few clicks.

2 - Increased Fault Tolerance and Reliability Downtime damages reputations and frustrates customers who expect the “always on” nature of the internet. Reliable, fault tolerant infrastructure is now a standard requirement for your website, applications and overall infrastructure. Cloud service providers understand this and continually work to simplify the process of designing fault tolerant systems. Designing a reliable fault-tolerant network used to be a complex and expensive task. Cloud services are changing that. Most cloud computing providers maintain redundant data centers located around the world designed to keep your applications running even in cases of major disruptions or disasters. The ability for automatic failover to an entirely new datacenter in the case of failure is now commonplace and expected.

3 - Increased Security Cloud based services alleviate the burden of keeping servers updated and secure. Cloud service providers employ teams of security experts tasked with maintaining your infrastructure so that you don’t have to. Recently there was a large scale vulnerability discovered known as Heartbleed which affected most web servers running on the internet. Within a matter of hours, most major cloud computing providers applied mass security updates to their servers without any action required by their customers. Organizations still managing their own non-cloud (in house) servers had a much more laborious and expensive process of manually upgrading their servers and hoping that their fixes were applied correctly.

4 - Cost Savings You may ask, “Why should I pay a monthly fee for cloud computing services  rather than buying my own equipment up front?”. Valid question and the answer boils down to operations and maintenance costs. Servers inevitably fail, backups corrupt, security vulnerabilities are discovered and all of these things are expensive to fix. In the cloud computing model, you effectively have an entire professional IT staff maintaining your infrastructure for you. Your cloud provider monitors your hardware, upgrades your software, applies security patches and performs tests with minimal action required by your organization. Due to the fierce competition in the cloud computing space, costs associated with cloud computing are also routinely dropping.

What’s keeping you from switching to cloud based services? Look for part 2 of this series, “Developing and Implementing a Migration Strategy” soon.