One cloud solution is not the other

15 June 2020

The time that you stored all your data on a server within the company walls has long been behind us. More and more often, we store data in the cloud or even move entire workloads to the cloud. Cloud, hybrid cloud, multicloud,… these are just a few terms that the specialized media have been using in their texts for a few years. Cloud service providers are also juggling with it. And despite all this attention, less than 3% of all data is in the cloud. How did that happen? Where is the "cloud"? And why should cloud not be an insurmountable step for you if you know what you need and plan it well? We will explain this in detail in this and subsequent blogs.

Which Cloud?
We start with a misunderstanding to get rid of the world: Cloud does not mean that there is no more hardware and that your data 'floats around' somewhere. That data is stored somewhere in one or more data centers, just as LCL manages several. The hardware is therefore no longer physically in your company, but centralized in a data center.

To further specify the concept of "cloud", we briefly list the differences here. There are necessarily three large blocks: private cloud and public cloud with the hybrid cloud in between. A private cloud can best be compared to your old server. An organization then puts its data and tools on a private ICT infrastructure in an external data center such as ours. You rent, as it were, part of the data center exclusively. The advantage over the server in the office is that the data in the data center - your private cloud - is accessible from anywhere (in real time) and that you as a customer also have less to worry about the security of the IT infrastructure. It is important that only your own branches and employees can access these data and tools. This "own" data center is not shared with others.

At the other end of the spectrum you have the public cloud. This is, as the word says, a publicly accessible form. Data and tools are then on the infrastructure that is shared by multiple users. This is perhaps best known to the general public, because services such as Spotify, Office 365, ... are public cloud.

Hybrid cloud is a combination of both: parts of the data and the workloads are in both the public cloud and the private cloud.

Multicloud is a term you may also hear. There are hundreds of cloud providers on the market today. This term refers to the fact that you use the services of different cloud providers. Just think of Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and local providers who, for example, manage your private cloud environment in their data center. Research tells us that today companies use an average of 8 cloud environments!

What does it yield?
After the hype of a few years ago, everyone has fallen off the 'pink cloud'. Moving everything to the cloud turned out not to be the best solution. Also because, if you start without thinking and clear cloud strategy, the costs can sometimes skyrocket.

It is better to look at a balance. Analyze all your data and IT processes and then ask the data center specialists what is best for you. We know from experience that some IT processes and apps do thrive in a public cloud environment. Other data or workloads are still best run locally on the servers in a data center. Modern data centers can also easily connect to other cloud environments so that the user does not notice any difference or delay.

The hybrid cloud combines the best of both worlds and is therefore currently so popular. Moreover, we know that every company has different needs and that a cloud solution tailored to the company has the best result. Some require a few terabytes of cloud storage for their backup, others have strict SLAs and need to house everything in a data center with Tier III certification. Then of course you get a different cost.

What we see more and more happening is that in the cost price calculation the business advantage is taken into account. Cloud computing has a cost, but it also provides more flexibility and scalability: so-called business agility. Which increases the efficiency of the company and makes it more profitable. Businesses can also launch new services and products by working in the cloud.

In addition, in a typical company, almost three-quarters of IT resources are spent on managing complex and sometimes old infrastructure with a lot of legacy. By choosing a modern IT infrastructure (in a data center or cloud environment) that is always up-to-date and has no downtime, your IT team has more time and budget to deal with your innovative business projects. It is that balance between what you put in the (public) cloud and what in the data center where we can advise you.

Even more cloud?
There is no turning back. On the contrary. In the future, we will make even more use of cloud services. Both private and in a business environment. Not only have people become more mobile, they can work from anywhere today thanks to technology. Just look at the recent homework measures from the Covid-19 virus. Services like Office365 doubled in number of users (from 20 million in November 2019 to 44 million in March 2020). Working from home will become the new standard, economists predict, so IT infrastructure will have to follow suit. That means even more applications and workloads and computing power in the cloud, so that your employees can respond quickly and flexibly to the needs of your customers without any interruptions.

In addition, there is edge computing. Edge computing processes the data at the edge of the network and not in a central data center. Automate many processes and through Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, among other things, certain actions will be performed autonomously by the computer. The most mediagenic example is the self-driving car. But behind the scenes of various industries, the so-called Internet of Things is a booming business. Industry 4.0, retail, banking, smart energy networks, aircraft construction, video surveillance, etc. They all want more computing and computing power close to the end points to make faster and more accurate decisions. Certainly the arrival of 5G will be a game changer for applications that require no or ultra-low latency. So edge computing will require even more data and analysis tools in (mini) clouds: cloud edge computing.