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Heading for the Clouds

You would have heard the buzzword CLOUD by now, which refers to centralised and often managed environments and is often used to describe infrastructure not at your businesses premises. As Cloud computing becomes more and more a go to option for software vendors and the like we are starting to use the cloud more often. If you have a Web based CRM, Email or use the internet in general you have no doubt already stepped foot inside the cloud. But the question we are asked by a lot of small to medium businesses is how can we utilise the cloud?

The term Cloud is best described as infrastructure that you have an external connection to or use an internet connection of any sort to access. Moving to the cloud can allow your business flexibility in demand, cost effectiveness & the expertise of cloud providers, but does rely heavily on the connection you have to the internet. In essence you can do just about anything in the cloud that you can do on premises, however the cloud comes with little to no up-front costs such as capital expenditure, is flexible and can provide better ROI.

Firstly let us explain that there are different ways you can utilise the cloud, to make it easy to understand lets break this down into three main areas: Public Cloud, Private Cloud & Hybrid Cloud.

Public cloud is just as it says on the tin, your infrastructure or software will be running in a shared environment an example of this is Hotmail, were your information although protected is hosted on shared infrastructure (many servers that work together to host large amounts of data and provide greater processing power)

Private Cloud is where you your data and processing is done purely on exclusive infrastructure and is not shared with other companies or persons information. Due to regulation this is the method adopted by many financial institutions, as the data they store is sensitive and the resources they require need to be dedicated to them.

Hybrid Cloud is probably the missing link in the puzzle and at present we would suggest is the go to option for small to medium businesses, this option would see you retain infrastructure onsite whilst linking this to external infrastructure (either shared or private) via an internet connection. The benefit of this option is that it allows you to retain data locally, which has benefits for backup, restore & business continuity. As we move closer and closer to mainly using the cloud the hybrid option is the perfect stepping stone for most businesses. An example of this is for backup, you would backup to a local device and then replicate this backup to the cloud. Should you then need to restore this backup you are not relying on a strong internet connection to achieve this or using all your bandwidth and having flow on effects to your business, as you are able to do a bare metal restore from your local device. You are also not as reliant on your internet connection to perform backups locally as you can upload to cloud once your connection is re-established or at off-peak times in order to avoid using up bandwidth during high demand times.

Should you wish to discuss how you can make the cloud work for your business, then get in touch with Portal who will help make sure that your cloud does have a silver lining and ensure you get the best solution to meet your requirements, whether that be in the clouds or firmly on the ground.