Cloud Hosting Solutions
Public cloud is a fully virtualised, multi-tenanted environment in which those tenants share the computing resources. The multi-tenant concept is a resource sharing model and results in higher utilisation, greater efficiency and reduced idle time for the server farms, related infrastructure and support technicians. The outcome is greater economies of scale which can then reduce the cost to the end user.
The multi-tenant model can be described using an analogy of a block of land. That same block may support a single dwelling with two residents or it could equally support a block of units with fifty residents. It is still the same area of land and many of the fixed costs are the same but, by constructing a bigger building, more people can simultaneously make use of it.
Although the computing resources are shared, data storage is kept isolated to maintain security and integrity. Access to the resources is delivered via the Internet using high speed networks.
Public cloud is usually charged through a "pay for use" model meaning that the client only pays for the resources they actually consume. This model is potentially very cost effective for the client. Public cloud is best used when the resource requirement is clearly understood or where a short term up-scale to computing resources is needed for discrete projects. The architecture of public cloud suits rapid deployment scenarios where flexibility and scalability are important.
Businesses utilising public cloud are generally looking for one or more of the following benefits:
a reduction in IT infrastructure costs Aside from the initial capital outlay, IT server infrastructure, in particular, is expensive. Some of the costs are floor space, insurance, maintenance agreements, electricity, environmental conditioning, backup power, disaster recovery, technical staff and the cost of lost employee costs in the event of downtime.
flexibility The ability to quickly adapt to changes in business activity or to deploy resources for projects is appealing for businesses with seasonal variation or which belong to an industry involving dynamic, unpredictable or short term demands. A software development firm winning a tender to build a new application may be an example for which public cloud is a good solution.
scalability The ability to increase computing capacity without the need to plan and budget capital expenditure enables a business to be more responsive to growth and market demand.
technical staff costs and reliance Managing an infrastructure environment generally requires the recruitment and retention of skills or highly paid technical people. Reliance on a small number of technical staff exposes the business to risk in the event that key people take leave, are off sick or simply get bored and leave the business in pursuit of more challenging roles. Cloud service providers take care of this issue and have a depth of talent available to maintain their systems across multiple data centres.
Public cloud may not suit all business types. Being a multi-tenanted environment can create concerns for organisations with a strong emphasis on security, particularly where legislative compliance or governance is a priority. Organisations with these imperatives are more suited to a hosted private cloud option. Public cloud does, however, incorporate security principles such as encryption and identity management.
So, what kind of computing workload is best suited for public cloud? Web based and customer facing applications tend to work well in cloud, as do applications which are accessed by many users from different locations, a mix of different access platforms or varying levels of connectivity.
Public cloud is less suitable for hosting applications which are purpose built or heavily customised or which are accessed by a smaller group of people at only one or two locations, typically business offices. In these cases hosted private cloud or on premises may prove more efficient and cost effective.
Bluefly recommends Microsoft's Azure solution as both a longer term solution for firms requiring cost effective and flexible computing resources and also as a short term solution for projects or application development initiatives. Azure can easily be integrated with on-premises Active Directory systems for a greater level of security.