AVAREN is Cloud Computing & IT Services for Small Businesses in Dallas & Fort Worth
What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is any application, platform, or infrastructure service, accessible via the Internet (“the cloud”), that has been built or configured within a data-center (or server) of a service provider. This means there is truth in the saying that, “the cloud is just someone else’s server”. There are some differences as well however. Let’s explore them.
Probably the greatest difference between Microsoft’s (for example) cloud infrastructure and that which would be affordable for small business, would be in the areas of redundancy. At AVAREN, our specialty is redundancy but it is only practical for us to take this to a certain extent when designing infrastructure for our small business clients. An example of this difference may be the caliber and number of varied Internet providers that Microsoft for example would have servicing their data centers, versus the 1 (or 2) relatively small Internet circuits a small business would typically have. Microsoft is obviously going to spend even more than the typical small business on things like power infrastructure and generators, etc. In short, Microsoft will probably be able to provide a slightly higher degree of system uptime (as a result of this enhanced power and communications infrastructure) than would be cost feasible for the typical small business.
Large cloud providers are usually buying hardware (of the same basic quality as our beloved HP DL380), but it will typically be designed to support many hundreds or thousands of users. HP, Cisco, and others manufacture what could be referred to as a “super-server”. Instead of the $2,000 – $20,000 cost typical for a small business server, these “super servers” can often cost $250,000 or more. These machines are capable of holding far more processors, storage, memory, etc than the typical server we would regularly deploy. The cloud provider will then “fractionalize” the use of this much larger system for as many customers as possible. Below, we’ll discuss the different types of “cloud” service available, but before we do let’s take a brief look at some of the pros and cons of putting your firm’s infrastructure in “the cloud”.
Greater (ideally) potential up-time
If a cloud provider has built their system correctly with the appropriate investments in power, Internet, and internal switching infrastructure; they should have a better chance of keeping the infrastructure up for slightly more of the time than the typical small business can feasibly achieve at their own location.
Lease versus buy
Often cloud based services are offered on a month to month basis, meaning your firm may be able to avoid some upfront expenditures.
Ease of management
Often cloud providers develop web based management systems that can make it easier to manage some processes and applications.
In some cases it can be easier to “scale up” cloud resources than to do so with internal infrastructure. With “the cloud”, the hardware is often already there and only needs to be allocated.
More flexibility during a disaster
In the event of a disaster at your local facility that prevents operations; having some or all of your infrastructure in the cloud may be a gift. In a case like this your people could continue operations elsewhere while connecting to the existing cloud infrastructure. Some cloud providers also allow for near instant provisioning of things like databases, servers, and other hardware and software. In these instances spinning up new functions “in the cloud” may make recovery faster than rebuilding locally.
Sometimes backups are inadequate
If your internal infrastructure is not being watched over and managed by a group like AVAREN, you could be in a situation where locating your infrastructure in the cloud may be safer for your firm. The cloud providers typically have some method of automated backup, even if often inadequate.
Not in your possession
Locating your infrastructure in the cloud means your data is not in your physical possession; as it would be if you had your own infrastructure for example.
Less flexibility during a disaster
In the event of a major outage at a provider, not having physical possession of your machines or data can create work stoppages and recovery delays. In these situations your business is often at the mercy of the cloud provider. It has been rare, but we have seen this cripple businesses in the past. In the worst case it drug on for about 6 weeks.
During a recent speed test performed for a client against a cloud file share, the upload speeds for example were terrible when compared to transferring files to their internal server. The upload speed of their Internet circuit was only about 13Mbps, which left them with an approximate 10X upload time when compared to transferring files to the internal server. If performance is one of your primary concerns, utilizing the cloud for storage operations related to graphics, video, and marketing may prove to be somewhat more frustrating than utilizing storage on your local LAN.
Less expectation of privacy
If your infrastructure is not in your physical possession and the system entirely managed by a third party, how do you know who is looking at your data, emails, etc? The unfortunate reality is…you can’t.
Sometimes backups are inadequate
Sometimes the backup and recovery tools provided by cloud providers can be less than adequate. Even Microsoft’s own beloved Office 365 cloud service has limitations in this department. We have found it a mandatory precaution to run our own backup processes so that we have the granular restore capabilities we must have to keep executives and users happy. Don’t assume you are protected just because your data is in the cloud; call AVAREN today and put an automated system in place.
IaaS, PaaS, & SaaS
The “Cloud Computing Stack”
If you haven’t considered it previously, you are likely already using at least one cloud service. Years ago when people had their e-mail at places like Hotmail or AOL, this was essentially “cloud computing”. In the last decade things have been changing fast, and the number and quality of “cloud” computing services continues to improve.
One of the fastest ways to deeply understand the universe of cloud resources is to understand the categories of cloud services available. Most cloud services can fit into these three general categories:
- Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
- Platform as a service (PaaS)
- Software as a service (Saas)
Sometimes referred to as the “cloud computing stack” they build one on top of another, so knowing how they are different can help to accomplish your business objectives.
Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
IaaS is the simplest category of cloud services. With IaaS you are generally renting IT infrastructure (on a monthly or annual basis). Examples might include: servers or operating systems, virtual machines (VMs), storage, or networks.
Platform as a service (PaaS)
(PaaS) generally refers to cloud services that offer a demand driven environment for developing, managing, and delivering software applications. PaaS can make it simpler for application developers to rapidly create apps, without having to manage or setup the underlying hardware infrastructure of storage, servers, networks, etc.
Software as a service (SaaS)
(SaaS) generally refers to Internet delivered applications typically on a subscription basis. Typically with SaaS services, providers host, manage, and handle maintenance for the underlying software application. Users will connect to the SaaS application over the Internet, usually with a web browser from a PC or laptop.
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Managing, supporting, and securing internal (and cloud based) Microsoft Server (and associated systems) for small business is all we do; and we’ve been doing it for decades. In our modern world of technology, your business needs expert analysts to assist with managing your critical IT infrastructure. If you’re tired of the carrying the burden by yourself or just need to supplement your team, our staff of IT professionals are standing by. Let AVAREN become your source for cloud services; to get started just call us today. One of our analysts would be happy to assist with any questions you have.
Call AVAREN today 214-379-4200. AVAREN is cloud computing & IT services for small businesses in the Dallas Fort Worth area.
AVAREN is Cloud Computing IT Services for Small Businesses based in the Dallas Fort Worth region.
Veterans of big business and government; AVAREN has the experience needed
to provide reliable business systems.