Introduction

Cloud usage has skyrocketed over the past 24 months with no apparent end in sight.  We have also seen a significant rise in the number of cloud related conversations, cloud consulting engagements and cloud deployments at SIS.  With the enormous rise in interest comes a significant increase in the number of solutions available.  As more solutions enter the market the noise level increases and so does the confusion.

We have been around for over 30 years and have seen many IT solution deployments.  Our approach is to look at all available options and the forms they take (public, private and hybrid) and help clients cut through the noise to make an informed cloud decision.

The outcome of this document is to help break through the clutter, provide some structure and highlight how clients are able to leverage cloud for disaster recovery.  This is part one which will start with some cloud fundamentals with part two moving into a deeper look at cloud based Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) options.

Understanding Cloud Delivery:

Cloud can be broken down primarily into three delivery mechanisms: public, private, and hybrid.

Public clouds are multi-tenant deployments, such as software as a service (SaaS), like Salesforce, or infrastructure as a service, like Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure. Public clouds are typically viewed as less secure and are the lowest cost.

Private clouds are either based on premise in an organization’s data center or hosted in a remote data center. These cloud services are only accessed by a single client, thus making them the most secure and the most expensive.

Hybrid clouds mix both types of environments. They enjoy some of the pricing and scalability advantages of public cloud while providing enhanced security. Most Industry research firms predict that hybrid will continue to lead the way in cloud deployments.

The Promise of Leveraging the Cloud:

Almost everyone is trying to figure out how leverage the cloud within their enterprise with an eye towards achieving some level of operational or financial efficiency.

OpEx Versus CapEx – Cloud allows you to move from a large upfront capital expense (CapEx) to operating expense (OpEx). You eliminate the large upfront capital expense and pay for only the cloud technologies that you use on a subscription basis. This provides you with a forecastable recurring expense, simplifying budgets. If the solution does not meet your needs in the future, then you simply move to another service or cancel the contract.

Staff Efficiency – Leveraging a cloud, your existing technical staff are able to focus on strategic business initiatives instead of infrastructure support. Bringing IT closer to the business leaders aids in the adoption of technologies that can help you reach your goals. At the same time, you can avoid the cost of hiring and support new technology and infrastructure growth.

Flexibility and Scalability – Grow at the speed of your customers without the burden of hardware and software acquisition. Your infrastructure should not be a limiting factor to your business success. With cloud, your infrastructure can scale with your business, and you only pay for the capacity you use.

Rapid Elasticity – Without the burden of quoting, shipping, implementation efforts, and recurring hardware and software purchases, companies can more effectively move at the speed of their business, the market, and their customers and not be slowed down by arduous internal approvals to scale their infrastructure. Cloud allows businesses to realize a reduced time to deploy, increased ability to provision capacity/workloads on-demand as the environment grows, and reclaim them easily if no longer needed. You deploy only what is needed. There is no more wasted physical resources or extended installation times.

 

A Closer Look at Cloud Implementation

The cloud, like most new technology implementations, takes planning and forethought to maximize the benefits that your organization achieves. It is also important to note that not all cloud service providers offer the same benefits. Make sure that you understand the security features and business benefits from each provider.

Start by analyzing your business processes, IT operations, applications, and data. Understand which applications and data can easily be moved to the cloud, and begin with those workloads. Look at business processes and determine which ones may change with a shift to the cloud. Look at your IT operations to understand which tasks could be automated and streamlined with a move into the cloud.

 

Consider These Workloads for Cloud

Some key attributes and functions lend themselves to the cloud. Workloads that are not mission-critical to day-to-day operations, like application development, are ideal for cloud deployment. Here are some other aspects of your IT workloads that clients have found to be optimized to run in the cloud:

Email – According to many studies, the average office worker sends or receives about 121 emails per day.  While mission-critical, email servers are typically the same. Migrating email to the cloud eliminates the headaches of maintaining servers, mailbox sizing, applying patches, and version upgrades.

Application Development – App/Dev teams can set up temporary servers in minutes that mirror the future production environment. This speeds time to market while reducing the amount of labor that IT requires to process the request. When the project is complete, it can be shut down.

Backup and Retrieval – Hybrid clouds make ideal backup targets. Easily scale storage space to save as many snapshots as required. Fully automate the process to eliminate human intervention and handling of physical media.

Disaster Recovery (DRaaS) – In the past, DR was a very expensive solution with unimpressive recovery capabilities.  The options were to build your own datacenter, retro-fit a secondary location, pay a large sum of money to a DR provider or ship a bunch of tapes off-site and pray that a disaster never happens.  With the right cloud solution enterprises are realizing significant reduction in cost and significant improvement in recovery times and recovery points.

Conclusion

There are many ways enterprises are leveraging the cloud with new implementations deployed daily.  The first thing to determine is the business outcome you hope a cloud solution helps you achieve.  The second is to understand the operational impact this will have on your people, process and procedures.  Finally, determine what elements of your enterprise are ideal candidates for cloud and the most efficient cloud delivery mechanism.  There are many solutions available, do not lock yourself into a single school of thought.  Next, we will take a deep dive into cloud based disaster recovery solutions.