Rob Koch, Chief Executive Officer at DYOPATH
Providing better service and reducing risks while eliminating operational overhead might sound too good to be true. With business cloud computing, all this and more is possible. The cloud gives companies benefits across the spectrum, from easier and less expensive disaster recovery (using disaster recovery as a service or DRaaS) to better scalability.
In my last blog post, I discussed the significant positive impacts from switching to cloud infrastructure. In this article, we will look at how to make cloud work for your organization with the understanding that every organization is unique. Regardless of what your organization’s IT infrastructure looks like, smart decisions can help make the cloud work for you.
After looking at the common traits of successful cloud deployments, we’ll learn about trends and new innovations in cloud computing that might further increase its value to your company.
What Do Successful Cloud Users Do?
In short, utilizing the cloud to its full capacity requires good architecture. Cloud providers offer a ton of different services, including many with significant use-case overlap. How companies choose the right cloud services and connect them into a working system can determine their level of cloud success.
As I mentioned in my last blog post, one of the biggest issues that plagues non-cloud companies is that IT teams are forced to work at the wrong level of abstraction for the problem at hand. This issue is also possible with poorly conceived cloud plans as well. To take full advantage of what the cloud has to offer, successful companies use the right cloud services for their needs.
As an example, many companies need to run legacy software that they might not have the source code to. These companies should run this type of software on a lower-level solution like an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) solution or physical server instead of attempting to shoehorn it into a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solution with modern cloud data storage and networking. Sometimes, on-premises deployment is still the best option for one application but not others. In that case, a smart hybrid cloud architecture will combine the best of both worlds.
At the other extreme, new software development should use the highest level of abstraction that is right for the problem. Software that the company develops or outsources should be built to take advantage of modern cloud affordances that save IT teams time and money further down the road.
In general, successfully moving to the cloud means adopting a cloud-first mindset instead of using the cloud as if it were only someone else’s datacenter.
Avoiding Cloud Pitfalls: Flexibility and Portability
Poorly-thought-out cloud deployments often suffer from a lack of flexibility—precisely what the cloud tries to fix. Cloud providers, in an attempt to increase and sustain their organization, try to lock in users by offering services with proprietary application programming interfaces (APIs) and no direct equivalents with other providers.
To give yourself more flexibility and allow you to switch to another cloud provider should your current choice make changes that negatively affect your organization, it can be a good idea to choose services with direct equivalents on other cloud platforms. Most standard services are portable between providers with some work. Some, like Amazon S3 and Google Cloud Storage, share the exact same interface, so it’s trivial to switch.
Transformation Trends in the Cloud
Companies that already use the cloud are taking a look at ways that they can improve efficiency, prevent vendor lock-in, and further increase reliability. Others are looking to scale up by automating existing procedures and taking advantage of cloud functionality. Still others are looking towards artificial intelligence and machine learning to solve complex problems and introduce new efficient strategies.
One of the most significant trends in cloud computing is the move to multi-cloud. As Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure become increasingly capable alternatives to Amazon Web Services—and, in fact, have certain exclusive services—many companies are moving workloads to multiple clouds simultaneously.
This presents a few significant advantages over sticking with a single cloud provider:
- Reliability. Although it’s extremely rare, sometimes a cloud provider’s entire operation goes down as a result of a cascading software failure. By using a multi-cloud strategy, organizations can insure themselves against issues with one cloud provider. This is a different strategy from multi-region within the same cloud, because organizations using multi-cloud purchase services from completely different cloud services corporations.
- Insurance against lock-in. Sometimes, a single cloud provider will have an incompatible core service, intended to prevent customers from switching to other options due to the high cost of migrating. By using two or more clouds simultaneously, companies with multi-cloud strategies can make sure that an equivalent service is available from another vendor, preventing lock-in.
- Flexibility to use the best option from each vendor. Some cloud features have no direct equivalents with other platforms. If these services are important, a company can use just the one service from one cloud provider while still purchasing other products from their preferred provider.
Implementations of multi-cloud technology take three general forms:
- Hot standby. In this approach, a company will use one cloud provider as their primary solution. All of their production load is sent towards the preferred cloud. However, if something goes wrong, they can easily switch over to the other cloud and scale its resources up to full capacity within minutes.
- Split at a load balancer. With this technique, a company runs services on multiple clouds simultaneously. Traffic hits a load balancer or content delivery network (CDN) first before being routed to either of the two clouds. This solution guarantees full redundancy, since both cloud platforms are being used equally. However, it can also be complicated and expensive, since each cloud must have the same data. Transferring data between services on the same cloud platform is almost always cheaper than doing the same over two different clouds.
- Service-by-service split. Unlike the previous two options, this approach lets companies take advantage of services that are exclusive to one particular cloud. Individual services are picked and chosen from each cloud. If one cloud offers better data analytics tools, the company can choose those services while also using another cloud’s static file hosting, for example.
As multi-cloud strategies have become more common and more well-supported, tools have emerged that allow companies to automate the process of setting up all sorts of cloud infrastructure. In the next section, we’ll look at infrastructure-as-code, which is one of the most important solutions to this problem.
Phone Infrastructure in the Cloud
Cloud-hosted phone systems offer a variety of advantages: picking up calls to the office phone using mobile phones, lower cost, support for web video calling and more. Unified-communication-as-a-service (UCaaS) is a term that encompasses communication systems, including phone, fax and more, running in the cloud. UCaaS helps employees take advantage of better mobility and collaboration.
Traditional on-premises hosting expresses infrastructure as physical hardware. To change a property of the network, network admins have to unplug physical Ethernet cables and change software running on physical routers. Most cloud solutions treat infrastructure as data that is edited through the graphical cloud console or even through an API.
Infrastructure-as-code shakes up this model by defining and creating infrastructure programmatically. Instead of defining the infrastructure they need, IT teams using infrastructure-as-code define ways to determine their desired infrastructure configuration. Compared to other solutions, this is immensely scalable and portable to multiple cloud platforms.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
AI and ML—once more buzzword than substance—are shaking up a variety of areas in cloud computing and beyond. By taking advantage of powerful graphics processing units (GPUs) in the cloud, companies can train their own AI and ML without needing to own the hardware. Cloud services for computer vision, natural language processing and other areas in AI are available as well.
Gain These Benefits for Your Organization
After seeing the significant benefits of cloud migration, moving to the cloud—and doing so correctly—seems like the best option available. DYOPATH has years of experience helping organizations move their workloads to the cloud, doing so in a way that takes advantage of the cloud’s strengths.
Thank you for taking time to read this blog. Through our cloud services campaign, we are helping companies build their infrastructure on the cloud to decrease operational expenses, protect themselves from loss of business continuity and gain a competitive advantage. Soon, I’ll have one more blog post where you will learn lots about successful cloud case studies and how to emulate their success yourself.
You can learn more about DYOPATH and our Cloud Services by visiting our website.
Rob Koch, Chief Executive Officer
About the author: Rob Koch is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at DYOPATH and a pioneer within the managed service provider (MSP) vertical. He sets the culture, vision, strategy and overall business direction across DYOPATH. His leadership of DYOPATH is grounded in his personal values of adventure, determination, health, learning, love, peace and success. His passion for DYOPATH comes from the people, “We have the best!”, says Koch. His favorite quote is, “It’s not the Destination, It’s the Journey.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.