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January 16, 2018
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By: John Shepler

Cloud computing is getting a lot of interest today for good reason. As stagnated economic conditions become the new normal, the attractiveness of pay as you go computing becomes more compelling. Combine that with near instant scalability and you have a computing environment that has a cost related to your level of business activity, with little or no need for planned investments. There are other advantages, too. These have to do with disaster recovery and business telephone infrastructure.

Disaster Recovery Needs
Let’s take disaster recovery. Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes and fires are real threats to company data centers. What happens if you get wiped out? You can rebuild, of course. But how long is that going to take and how do you do business in the meantime?

Cloud Services to Aid Disaster Recovery
Cloud computing can come to the rescue. The infrastructure is already in place. All you need to do is sign up for service and upload your software and data files. You DO have backups stored remotely, right? Perhaps that’s another good argument for having at least some computing or storage in the cloud. A local disaster probably won’t affect a remote data center.

Hosted Business Telephone
Company telephone systems are also local infrastructure intensive. They require investment, maintenance, repaid and eventual replacement. Once again, if a local disaster strikes your phones can be down for the long haul. A Hosted PBX system is the voice equivalent of cloud computing. You pay by the seat by the month for switching services and a rich feature set. The provider takes care of all equipment, sometimes including the actual phones in the monthly service fee.

Building The Private Cloud
Cloud services comprise a wide diversity in types of services available and in the mix of private vs public clouds. Yes, you can own and run your own cloud. If your company is large enough to justify the investment and expense and you want total control, it is certainly feasible to set up your data centers under a cloud model. What this involves is redundancy in hardware and extensive virtualization. You need enough resources on standby to ensure that you can accommodate failures plus any swing in workload demand. If you run out of resources, it’s not much of a cloud.

Moving To The Public Cloud
The other extreme is to outsource everything to a public cloud. You wind up with no servers or storage and only need to bring your applications software and a high bandwidth, low latency connection. The cloud provider ensures there is sufficient capacity in the system to serve all users. That includes being able to scale to meet increasing demand and bursting to handle short term peaks.

Worries About The Public Cloud
A full public cloud makes companies with large and critical needs a bit nervous. Murphy’s Law has been known to strike everywhere, including Amazon’s massive cloud structure. There’s also anxiety over security. Determined hackers seem to find their way into anything where there’s even the slightest opportunity. You can claim military grade encryption all you want, but it’s tough to prove that break-ins are impossible and will always be impossible.

Hybrid Clouds
For those reasons, large operations are leaning to the hybrid cloud model with some resources local and others off in the cloud. There are a couple of other approaches to keeping everything with your own walls. One is to have someone else build and operate a private cloud for you. That’s a cloud-modeled computing environment but dedicated to your exclusive use. The privatecloud can be hosted in a secure colocation facility close to high bandwidth providers. You not only offload the cost of ownership and maintenance, but can probably save on bandwidth costs too.

Clouds In The Colo
The other hosted solution is to create your own cloud, but do within the colo center using rented equipment. In this case, you are still responsible for the design and resource allocation of the hosted cloud, but it’s all done on a pay by the month basis rather than capital investment.

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