White Paper |
Public Cloud: The Future of Managed IT
Information is the hottest commodity on the market and the place to store that information is now in the cloud. Although private clouds were the first step, the business world is starting to recognize what Agio and other technology companies have been preaching for years — the public cloud is the best place for your information.
Why? It’s scalable, cost-effective, and ultra-secure — the technology trifecta. And it’s growing explosively.
According to global survey data from the International Data Corporation, spending on public cloud infrastructure will reach $122.5 billion in 2017 and $203.4 billion by 2020. It’s estimated that in just five years, from 2015 – 2020, the global investment in public cloud will be seven times higher than overall IT spending.
The global deployment of cloud services has ballooned to 93 percent in 2016, according to McAfee. These numbers are no surprise with groups like the International Trade Administration reporting infrastructure computing growing at a rate of 40 percent in revenue annually since 2011. By 2020, according to the ITA, infrastructure service providers like the public cloud will sell more computing power than enterprise data centers.
Public Cloud, Defined
The public cloud is a type of shared network infrastructure. The main advantage of cloud computing is it’s virtual, meaning it can be accessed on any computer anywhere across the globe.
Just as cloud-based software allows anyone, anywhere with an internet connection to access apps they love, like Netflix or Gmail, the public cloud infrastructure allows your company to access your network — including your apps, storage, and backup — from anywhere.
This type of cloud-based infrastructure, also known as infrastructure as a service, presents a huge advantage over traditional hardware networks.
Before cloud computing, companies had to buy hardware to house their data, hire a team to maintain it, and lost everything if a lightning storm or flood fried their machines. If you ran out of storage, you had to buy more equipment; If your software needed to be updated, it would disable an end user’s machine for hours.
The system worked, for a time, but had some major disadvantages — space, cost, inefficiency, and vulnerability, to name a few. Public cloud infrastructure offers a solution to all of these dilemmas.
Types of Cloud-Based Infrastructure
Public clouds are just one type of cloud-based IaaS:
- Public Cloud – When a network is accessible using systems and resources you lease from a large IaaS company. Your company has no responsibility in purchasing, refreshing, or maintaining the infrastructure hardware.
- Private Cloud – When a network is accessible using the hardware you purchased on a network you or a vendor built leveraging limited shared resources.
- Hybrid Cloud – When a company uses both the public cloud and private cloud for different functions.
Benefits of Public Cloud
The public cloud has been taking up more and more of the spotlight because it addresses all of the shortcomings of traditional infrastructure. Not only is it less expensive than traditional or private cloud infrastructure, but it also exceeds cybersecurity standards and is infinitely scalable — an ideal environment for production, development, and disaster recovery workloads.
Despite what some believe, the public cloud is the most secure type of cloud infrastructure available.
Private clouds can’t keep up with the Microsofts of the world, for example, that have more than $72 billion at their disposal to invest in the cybersecurity of their public cloud.
Public clouds staff dozens of security engineers who deploy daily oversight and maintenance of the cloud’s security policies and controls. They also renew security certifications quarterly, while most private clouds only have the capacity to keep up with annual renewal requirements.
This investment in cybersecurity pales in comparison to any small risk of exposure you may encounter from sharing the public cloud with other users and the ease of global virtual access points.
When it comes to dollars and cents, the public cloud is the best deal on the market. There’s no catch; they do it through economies of scale and pay-as-you-go pricing.
It’s impossible to compare the value of having to buy, house, and maintain hardware and the engineers that manage it — as it is with the private cloud — and handing those financial responsibilities over to public cloud providers. But we’ll do it anyway. Compared side by side, the private cloud can be as much as 10 times more expensive than the public cloud.
|Private Cloud||Public Cloud|
You’ll also save money using the public cloud because of its unique pay-as-you-go pricing model.
Let’s use disaster recovery as an example. DR is your business’ insurance policy. With a private cloud, you’re charged to reserve spare CPUs even if you don’t use them — just like paying a car insurance premium in case you get into an accident. But imagine how much you’d save if you only had to pay for insurance when you got into an accident. That’s the public cloud — you only pay for the minutes or gigabytes you actually use.
This is a revolutionary way of pricing such a service because it allows for infinite experimentation and scalability. For pennies on the private cloud’s dollar, you could power up a high-level server, run a test, and power it down.
Disaster Recovery Costs
|Private Cloud||Public Cloud|
|Small Standby Server||$230/month||Small Standby Server||$80/month|
|Medium Standby Server||$379/month||Medium Standby Server||$80/month|
The public cloud is designed as an on-demand resource, so its ability to scale is unmatched. There will always be room for your company to lease more space as you need it, and as your organization grows. This makes your day-to-day functions seamless because your applications will always be able to handle the amount of demand you put on them.
Scalability is the linchpin of the low cost associated with the public cloud. Not only are daily operating costs slashed thanks to the pay-as-you-go pricing model, but it also alleviates long-term costs of switching providers when you outgrow your current one.
This scalability also extends to location. No matter how large or small your company is and how many offices you have, your end users will always be able to access your network as long as they’re connected to the internet.
Combining the size of the public cloud with scalability and low costs, it’s an ideal resource for disaster recovery.
If one server were to fail, another will always be there to keep your operations running smoothly. If you’re worried about a storm on the East coast, a few clicks of the mouse will replicate your data at a West coast data center.
Not only does this ensure maximum data safety, but it also reduces disaster recovery costs dramatically. Billing is associated with actual CPU usage, rather than storage reservation.
Public Cloud vs. Private Cloud
Since the early 2000s, the tech industry has argued over the effectiveness of the cloud. The biggest factor that drives a wedge between private cloud fans and the pro-public cloud camp is security or the perceived lack thereof.
Some argue sharing the public cloud amongst thousands of users depletes security. Agio wholeheartedly disagrees. As trailblazers of the public cloud movement, we argue the public cloud is more secure than the private cloud could ever be.
On the surface, it makes sense why some would think the private cloud is safer. A private cloud is just that — private — meaning it’s only available for some people to access. For example, Agio’s private cloud only allows access to our customers. This privacy is comforting to some companies, but it shuts out the investments in security only companies the size of Microsoft or Google can invest in.
The business case for switching to the public cloud is also undeniable.
There’s a laundry list of expenses associated with the private cloud — purchasing expensive equipment, hosting it on-premises, funding circuit support, and accommodating annual software refreshes, plus startup costs to develop a custom environment.
To be fair, a switch to the public cloud does require an up-front investment. It takes time and skill to carefully plan and execute a migration to the public cloud. That’s where the spending stops, however. Once you make the switch, you’re no longer on the hook for costly hardware, salaried staff, and you’ll never have to switch providers again because the public cloud allows for your company to scale effortlessly.
Choosing a Cloud Provider
With a switch to the public cloud on the horizon, you now have two choices to make: which cloud provider do I work with, and which company do I hire to help me with the transition?
There are many quality options when it comes to choosing a cloud infrastructure provider. One January 2017 study by RightScale identified the top six:
- Amazon Web Service
- Microsoft Azure
- Google Cloud
- Oracle Cloud
- Digital Ocean
In the professional IT world, though, there are really only two options that matter: AWS and Azure.
AWS is respectable; it’s been around longer than Azure and offers a variety of open-source databases and code. In our opinion, AWS is the perfect choice for startup businesses and .coms.
But that’s not our market, which is why, when it came time for Agio to choose a partner, we knew Azure was the right choice.
Microsoft’s offering includes active directory hooks, a replication file server, and you’ll find the switch easy on the eyes as well because it has a similar interface to your favorite Microsoft programs. Best of all, Office 365 is built into Azure’s cloud. Talk about an easy transition.
Other factors to consider in your decision:
- Costs – There’s more to compare than just price per gigabyte per hour. What else are you getting for your money? Threat protection or malware, backup tools and replication tools associated with the CPU cost can all add value to the price you pay for a provider.
- Firewall – To keep your security standards consistent, the provider you select should have the same industry-leading firewall that you use in-house.
- Remote Access Solutions – What kind of security does the provider offer when your end users access the cloud remotely? You should consider if they have multi-factor authentication, what security credentials they offer and the level of security analytics monitoring they provide.
- Network Speed Connectivity – The CPU system you use on the cloud should have at least 10 gig speeds, if not higher. Some cloud providers only offer high-speed access for high-CPU systems.
- Network Storage – Consider the security of the storage system. The system itself, as well as every application and service that can access it, should have native encryption, replication tools, and snapshot tools.
- VM Templates – Your cloud provider should allow you to customize the platform as needed to help your business grow and simplify deployment.
Choosing a Cloud Management Provider
Having an empathetic perspective toward your company’s needs is just one of many factors you should consider when choosing a company to manage your public cloud.
Moving your infrastructure from the old-fashion system or a private cloud to the public cloud is a complex process. It shouldn’t be left in just anyone’s hands.
We recommend evaluating each company by their:
- Experience and Background in Security – Before you hire a company to transition your files, you need to know this isn’t their first rodeo. Accessibility — one of the biggest advantages of the public cloud — is a double-edged sword. Anyone, anywhere with an internet connection and credit card can buy into the public cloud and pretend like they know what they’re doing. This makes it easier for amateurs to pass themselves off as professionals. A true service provider should be able to offer detailed information about the cloud and the transition process, including offering use cases of past work they’ve done.
- Understanding of Your Business and Workflow – Working with a company that gets to know you is key. The cloud management company you choose should be able to make preliminary recommendations based on what they know of your industry, your company, and your workflow. These recommendations should include which cloud provider is best for your needs and which transition timeline will be the best fit for your workflow.
- Interest in Long-Term Management – The company you hire shouldn’t label itself as a consultant or one-time service. While migration to the public cloud may be a one-time thing, your cloud management provider should be a long-term partner invested in your network. They should have a sense of joint ownership in the configuration and maintenance of your network and be interested in sticking around for the long haul to help you maintain the cloud.
Public Cloud and Our Industries
Agio is proud to work with financial, healthcare and PCI organizations because we understand each of these industries has heightened technology and cybersecurity needs. Research shows that each of these groups would benefit from switching to a public cloud-based infrastructure.
Financial Services Industry
The financial service industry is taking the lead to adopt cloud IaaS. According to a McAfee survey, 99 percent of financial service organizations use at least some cloud functions, 87 percent have a “cloud-first” mindset, and 28 percent use public cloud exclusively.
But a lack of cybersecurity know-how is getting in the way. Nearly half said they were slow to adopt the public cloud because they don’t have access to skilled cybersecurity professionals.
McAfee’s study also found 96 percent of healthcare organizations currently use cloud services, with 81 percent thinking “cloud-first.” This focus on public cloud is so intent, survey respondents predicted 80 percent of their organization’s IT budget will be spent on cloud solutions within the next 15 months.
The survey also showed the majority of healthcare organizations — 60 percent — acknowledge the safety features the public cloud offers and store sensitive patient data there. Yet, just as with financial services, 46 percent reported slowing the adoption of cloud services because of a lack of cybersecurity resources.
This growing trust in public cloud safety can be seen across industries, but especially through the payment card industry. According to McAfee, most survey respondents said they believed:
- Public cloud is more secure than private cloud
- Public cloud is less expensive than private cloud
- Public cloud offers greater data visibility
Of all possible types of information stored in the public cloud, personal customer information is the most likely type to be stored (62 percent).
Working with Agio
Choosing to migrate from traditional infrastructure or the private cloud to the public cloud was a tough enough decision. Choosing which provider to work with shouldn’t be.
Agio offers cutting-edge cloud migration and management services with more than 20 years of cybersecurity expertise baked into every step of the process. When you work with us, you’re working with the full power of our entire managed IT and cybersecurity departments behind you.
Our public cloud service offers three migration plans:
- Lift and Shift – Your data will be rehosted from your data centers into the public cloud. Once the migration is complete, Agio will optimize Azure’s tools for your business- and industry-specific needs.
- Disaster Recovery – Your backup files will be replicated in the public cloud so your information is always protected, should disaster strike.
- Server Augmentation – Temporarily leverage the power of the public cloud as an extension of your data center while you need it.
Regardless of which migration plan you choose, Agio’s process remains the same.
We begin with an assessment of your current infrastructure that includes independent reviews of your current workflow and documentation, and interviews with key stakeholders such as the staff that manages your database.
Next, Agio will use the data we collected to complete a technical assessment and write a resource recommendation. This document will include the details on your key systems, existing resources, and their locations.
Both assessments allow us to develop diagrams, map out critical application dependencies and make recommendations for capacity planning development. After collaborating with you to determine the full extent of your migration needs, we’ll write a project plan and begin the migration. This process can take weeks or months, depending on the size of your migration.
Our work doesn’t end when the migration is over, however. We’ll be there when you need to expand or make sense of the latest SaaS Microsoft launches. That’s because Agio views you as a partner, not a customer. We’re invested in your long-term success.
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