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IT Strategies for Your Business: The Cloud

Data is stored everywhere. We have seen the change from floppy discs to zip drives, from CDs to USB storage drives and more. The biggest leap in data storage is the cloud.

"The cloud" refers to servers that are accessed over the Internet, and the software and databases that run on those servers. Cloud servers are in data centers all over the world. Users and companies don't have to manage physical servers themselves or run software applications on their own machines.

In this blog, we will break down the different types, and we will weigh the pros and cons of each for your business.

What is a Public Cloud?

A public cloud is a service run by a company that may include multiple data centers. Public clouds are shared by multiple organizations. Some examples include those offered by Amazon, Microsoft, or Google. Public clouds have large amounts of available space, which makes it easier to scale for your business needs.

An advantage of public clouds is its versatility and “pay as you go” structure. This will allow you to add more storage for your team on demand. This will allow you scale your business at a cost that is affordable.

Microsoft SharePoint: A public cloud service provided by Microsoft.

Public cloud providers have the tools to deal with security and disaster recovery. If your team is storing data on a public cloud, they will be using a system with built in redundancies that will keep you up and running.

The downside of a public model is all its operations are under full control of the provider. If you wanted to switch from Microsoft SharePoint to Google Drive, there may be difficulties moving data over properly.

Also, it could be very expensive! If there is sudden change to the platform, or the provider suddenly goes out of business, your team could be forced to make changes on short notice.

What is a Private Cloud?

Private clouds are services that are wholly dedicated to one organization. Employees that are authorized can access, use, and store data in the private cloud from anywhere, like a public cloud. The major difference is private clouds are only available to those with access.

Private clouds offer security and control. With a private model, you can determine who in your business has access to sensitive data, and you can determine where you want to move your data, and when you want to move it.

Since the private is not controlled by a company like Google or Microsoft, there is less risk of sudden changes disrupting your business infrastructure. For example, a public cloud service like Cloudflare being down will not affect a private cloud.

Unfortunately, the company that owns the private cloud is responsible for it. If there is an issue, your IT team will have to troubleshoot in-house.

Private clouds are more difficult to scale than public clouds are. Private cloud storage can only expand by adding more hardware and storage capacity. Depending on your IT team’s size and expertise, it may take longer to make changes and have a small amount of downtime.

Replacing server equipment can also be very expensive, and your private cloud will only be as strong the money that is put into it.

What If I Want Both?

Hybrid clouds combine public clouds and private clouds. They are designed to allow the two platforms to interact effortlessly, with data and applications moving smoothly from one to the other. Most businesses who are depending on industry and size go with this model.

Hybrid clouds are common for businesses that need to access specific design tools like Adobe Suite, basic productivity tools like Microsoft Office 365, or customer relationship platforms like Salesforce.

The major advantage of a hybrid model is its ability to be scaled like a public cloud with the security and control of a private cloud. If your business has to follow strict privacy guidelines (ex: HIPAA), a hybrid cloud will allow you to store data securely in the private cloud, then move the data securely into a public cloud when needed.

A disadvantage to a hybrid cloud is there can be issues with compatibility and data integration. If you are considering a hybrid model for your business, make sure that the software can store and convert all types of files on both platforms.

Your IT team will be responsible for managing applications, data, and the workloads in a hybrid environment. If your team has very limited IT resources, it can be difficult to manage a hybrid cloud. Your IT team will also have to make changes to their private cloud, so it can be adapted with the public cloud. This will eliminate some of the control you can have with your data.

Wrapping Up

The different cloud models and features can be overwhelming at first but are less daunting once you evaluate what your needs are. Then, you can choose a service provider that understands your business and industry.

Knowing your business needs and finding a provider that can cater to those needs will help make the process of transferring data as smooth as possible. Be sure to find out what type of service is available “out of the box” and what is an add-on. Have your IT team address what security measures are taken in keeping data safe.

It is also recommended you find out if there are any guarantees on storage capacity, response time, availability, and support if there is an issue. If you decide to go with a hybrid model, find out how much of the public cloud will interact with yours.

There are multiple options out there, so the best thing you can do for your business before making a decision is to make your research process as exhaustive as possible.

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