What Types of Cloud Are There?

Are you thinking about a move to the cloud? We assume you are, as you are reading this blog post. Before you sign a contract though, there are a few questions that you will need to discover the answers for.

There is a lot to consider when it comes to choosing a cloud. From the service provider - like Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services - to the type of cloud and how it is eventually deployed. Luckily for you, there are many qualified suppliers who can help you to decide the best way forward.

We are going to explain what the cloud is, the types of cloud there are, the ways they can be deployed and how a supplier should help you to determine which is the best approach to take. Let’s begin by taking a closer look at what the cloud actually is.   

Read more: what is Microsoft Azure?

What Are Cloud Services?

Using cloud services is a bit like moving part, or all, of your business to a virtual data centre. We will take your servers as an example. Instead of storing this in your company’s local IT network and managing it yourself, you would upload, amend and save this online (or in the cloud). You would not however need to manage it. Your supplier takes care of this for you.

And servers are not the only thing you might place in the cloud. Other aspects of your business that could go here include your storage, databases, networks, software, analytics and intelligence. But is this secure? Yes, it is.

The cloud regularly updates itself with the latest software upgrades and security patches. So you will always be using a system that is safe from the latest bugs, glitches and hacks. Combine this with the fact that the management work is taken out of your hands, and the cloud frees up your time so you can use to make your business more productive and profitable.  

Types of Cloud

What we have outlined above offers a general overview of what the cloud is. Now we are going to go into the specific types of cloud there are. We believe it is a good thing that the cloud is not a ‘one size fits all’ service. If it were, it might not be that good.

There are four types of cloud:

  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service
  • Platform-as-a-Service
  • Software-as-a-Service
  • Serverless

They each have a slightly different purpose. At the end of the day, however, you will be rewarded with more free time to work on other projects, no matter which type of cloud you use.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service

The most basic form of cloud there is. It allows you to rent out your IT infrastructure, which can cover anything from your storage to your networks, on a pay-as-you-go model. Information-as-a Service (I-a-a-S) is ideal for if you are looking to move parts of your business to the cloud and pay a recurring fee for it.

Platform-as-a-Service

Platform-as-a-Service (P-a-a-S) offers a way of getting fast access to the tools you need for making web and mobile applications using the cloud. But there is no need for you to manage the underlying infrastructure, as this is done for you. So you get to spend more time developing and testing your applications.

Software-as-a-Service

A model used for delivering software applications over the internet. With Software-as-a-Service (S-a-a-S), your cloud provider hosts all of your software and applications. This makes it easy for you to share and use them on multiple devices, including laptops, tablets and smartphones.

Serverless

As the name suggests, serverless means you do not have to worry about managing and maintaining any servers. You can create and use applications without concerning yourself with the underlying infrastructure and the tasks that are normally associated with this.

Deployment Methods

There is more than one type of cloud out there. And there is more than one way to deploy the cloud. As with the cloud types, there are some differences between the the deployment methods that you should know about. But the end results will be more free time for you, to make your business more efficient and effective.

You can deploy the cloud in three ways:

  • Public Cloud
  • Private Cloud
  • Hybrid Cloud

Public Cloud

Using a public cloud is a bit like renting a flat. The services and infrastructure are provided to you by a supplier over the internet. However, you are not the only one using these services. The supplier is also providing them to other companies, and you share the cloud space with them.

You might consider using a public cloud if:

  • You want to easily collaborate with other companies, as you will all have access to the same space.
  • You do not want to spend time on maintenance, as the supplier takes care of this for you.
  • You want to save cash, as you are not the one running the data centre or maintaining hardware.

Private Cloud

When you use a private cloud, your company gets its own network. You can choose to host it in your own data centre, or have the supplier host it for you. Either way, you will be the only one using it.

You might consider using a private cloud if:

  • You want complete and total control over your data.
  • You want to customise your cloud environment to meet your specific needs.
  • You want complete access to all the cloud services that are available to you.

Hybrid Cloud

If you want to combine the features of a public and private cloud, it is worth thinking about using a hybrid cloud. You can move data and applications between the two, if you have some that are better suited in different places. You could have your emails in public and sensitive reports in private, for example.

Another thing you can do is ‘cloud burst’. This is when you start an application in private, and move it to public when then demand spikes.

You might consider using a hybrid cloud if:

  • You want to maintain a private infrastructure for sensitive items.
  • You want to use public cloud resources when you need them.
  • You are okay with transitioning to the cloud as a gradual process.

How to Choose a Type of Cloud and Deploy It  

With all the subtle differences between the types of cloud and deployment methods, you might think it is difficult to decide the best options for your business. But suppliers will have a way of helping to to make the right choices. We have a 5-point process for helping companies to select a cloud that compliments them:

  1. Assessment
  2. Outline
  3. Create
  4. Conversion
  5. Maintain

1. Assessment

Your IT infrastructure and applications are reviewed to decide what type of cloud and deployment method is best. A key part of this stage is making sure you have an internet connection that can support the cloud. Without this, many cloud projects are not worthwhile.

2. Outline

The supplier presents you with a detailed picture of how your cloud infrastructure will look and run. At this stage, you will be able to ask your supplier any questions you have about what they are proposing to set up.

3.  Create

Your cloud infrastructure is put together.

4. Conversion

The supplier transfers your data, storage or any other aspects of your business to the cloud.  

5. Maintain

Your supplier continues to manage and maintain your cloud. Security and software updates occur automatically at regular intervals.

Subtle Differences, Same Benefits

With cloud services, you can move elements of your business to a virtual data centre where it is managed and maintained by a supplier. Updates take place on their own, so it is always performing at top capacity and securely. You are then free to use your time on developing profitable measures for your business.

There are several types of cloud and ways of deploying it. While these have some differences, you will always be getting more time to spend in any way you want. And there is no need to be worried about all the different models, as suppliers will help you choose the right ones.

If you still feel unsure about what is the best approach, we can help you out with a cloud services assessment. We will review your current IT setup and applications, and recommend a type of cloud and deployment method. Book your assessment today.

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Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published as ‘Should I Choose a Public, Private or Hybrid Cloud?’ in October 2017. It was updated in January 2019.

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