Almost every year since the Cloud began, its adoption rate by enterprises has increased. The reason? Because the advantages of cloud computing outweigh the costs involved in moving to the new technology.
Between efficiency gains, improved redundancy, and cost advantages, cloud computing is quickly becoming the new normal. Thirty-eight percent of enterprises have set public cloud as their top priority in 2018, and Gartner has predicted that cloud computing will become the default computing option by 2020.
As businesses continue to increase investment in cloud technology, the reasons why are easy to understand once you know the benefits. Here are some of the biggest advantages of cloud computing over traditional computing and why (if you haven’t already) you should consider making the switch yourself.
What Is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology as:
“A model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”
Simply put, cloud computing makes use of shared resources in order to optimize computing in almost every way. Instead of having to create individual hardware-based machines, cloud computing enables new virtual machines, or “nodes”, to be provisioned and created almost instantly.
What Is Cloud Hosting?
Cloud hosting is where cloud computing is provisioned with the specific requirements of hosting in mind. This still has a lot of the same benefits as cloud computing and uses the same architecture and design. However, cloud hosting optimizes certain aspects of a user’s cloud account so as to improve application environments.
For instance, Magento requires a heavy PHP load and has different caching requirements. With a Magento cloud account, your environment can be optimized to run Magento and adapt to these application differences.
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1. Faster Deployability
One of the biggest advantages of cloud computing is deployability. This is the ability to set up a new system to the point where it is fully operational. With traditional hardware-based systems, setup would require long periods of organizing physical hardware and installing software. The Cloud offers an alternative thanks to something known as containerization.
What Is Containerization?
Containerization takes standard computing and flips it on its head. Instead of having to create or upgrade hardware-based systems, containerization creates software environments which can be run in unison with one another. These software environments are virtual.
It does this by breaking a single application into smaller, more manageable chunks. These “chunks” can then be allocated to run in separate containers. Containers use fewer resources than alternate systems because they don’t each require a full operating system (OS) to run. This means containerized systems are able to get more done with the same number of resources.
One of the most popular tools for implementing containerization is called Docker. Docker allows for users to create flexible containers to match their requirements. Containers can run either Linux or Windows-based apps and contain everything they need to work (excuse the pun). This includes system tools, runtimes, code, libraries, and settings.
Many believe that containerization has become one of the main driving forces behind the growth of cloud technology. That’s because the easier it is to deploy new environments, the easier it is to expand.
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2. Easier Scalability
IDC has indicated that by the end of the year, they believe cloud-based technology will reach around 60 percent of all IT infrastructure. This makes sense when you think about the increase to expansion efficiency in terms of scalability.
Scalability is the ability to change the number of resources you have access to. For many growing enterprises, scalability is an integral part of providing a growing user base with the performance they need, regardless of how they are using it.
Deployability lends itself to increased scalability as, when containers are deployed, they can instantly be added to existing application instances depending on requirements. Scalability does this in two ways. These are known as vertical and horizontal scaling.
Horizontal scaling is a form of distributed architecture in which additional “blocks” or “nodes” are added to a pre-existing system. With traditional computing, this would mean setting up a new computer and connecting it to a previous system. With cloud computing, this can include containerization.
The “nodes’ added to the system remain independent of one another and do not inhibit the performance or capability of any other “node”. However, they can still be networked in order to draw information from a single source.
For instance, if you wanted to run multiple big data analyses from the same data set, but wanted to separate your different queries to speed up the process, you could do this. Each query can be allocated to a different container optimized around its requirements, yet still draw from a single data source.
Vertical scaling is where additional resources are added “on top” of those that already exist. This might be more CPU power, increased RAM access, or a higher storage volume. Users do this because it can help provide performance increases and additional functionality where needed. Nexcess Cloud Auto Scaling is an example of vertical scaling.
Unlike horizontal scaling, vertical scaling often comes with a predefined upper limit. Scaling beyond this limit usually means downtime.
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3. Improved Redundancy
Cloud architecture also affords another advantage in the form of improved redundancy. A properly implemented cloud computing system allows for each of its individual components or “nodes” to fail independently. This means that if one node shuts down, another can take the stress until the node is fixed or replaced.
For large organizations handling big quantities of data and catering to a huge customer base, this can mean the difference in tens of thousands in lost revenue.
What Hardware Fails?
Hardware failures are almost a guarantee in any type of computing. Up to 99% of respondents, in some surveys, state that they have experienced a hardware failure in the past. Not including hardware failures during your infrastructure planning stage is a mistake.
One of the most common pieces of hardware to fail is hard drives. Cloud storage provides you with the ability to backup your data on separate virtual hard drives and then instantly switch when one fails. The same goes for other computing resources. When one fails, another can immediately be allocated in its place to take up the strain.
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4. Reduced Costs
According to Deloitte, spending on IT-as-a-Service, including software (SaaS), platforms (PaaS), and infrastructure (IaaS), will reach $547 billion by the end of this year (2018). Despite the huge revenue gains being reported by the industry, 88% of cloud adopters have reported savings, with 56% stating that cloud adoption has actually helped them to boost profits.
Lower Entry Costs
One of the reasons for this is a lower cost of entry. Traditional in-house computing services cost more during the initial setup period as businesses need to invest in expensive hardware. Depending on a business’s size, these costs can be substantial and a huge stumbling block in the way of progress and growth.
Cloud computing reduces these costs by having these resources and hardware allocations organized for you. All you need to do is outline your requirements and cloud provisioning will be handled by your provider.
This leads to the second set of savings cloud computing affords businesses: scalability. While scalability is great for meeting the demands of an ever-expanding digital operation, it also works the other way. Up to 80 percent of in-house data centers have more server capacity than they need.
With Cloud, it is possible to decrease the number of digital resources available when they are not being used. Cloud means you don’t have to plan for the future by building out more servers than you need, when you can simply provision them in the Cloud when you actually need them. This may be during a quiet period of the year, or because you’re devoting efforts to other areas of your business. Scalability gives you the freedom to choose, and make savings whilst you do.
The Pros and Cons of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is more than just the list of the advantages above. There are, of course, disadvantages to making a switch to the Cloud. At the moment, one of the biggest issues businesses face when making the switch is the lack of skilled developers familiar with cloud technology.
For smaller enterprises, this can be a huge stumbling block along the road to cloud.
However, as the industry progresses, it is almost certain that experience and knowledge will continue to grow in line with cloud technology adoption. Meaning Cloud, more than likely, will become the business default for how organizations work online.
Originally published April 21, 2018.Posted in: Nexcess