Cloud migration is the process of moving your company’s data, applications, and business processes to a cloud computing environment — a web-based environment where software and data are housed in offsite servers.
Organizations do this to reduce their spending on on-premises (or on-prem) software and hardware (i.e. systems and machines in your offices or facilities), optimize their operations, and make their processes more agile. For instance, a McKinsey & Company report shows companies that adopt cloud platforms can deliver new capabilities up to 40% faster.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, cloud readiness has proven to be a weapon against disruption. Santander notes that among financial institutions, for example, the cloud has played a pivotal role in helping ensure service continuity and supporting new work models (e.g. remote work).
How Cloud Computing Impacts Small Businesses
A desire for efficiency is often the primary driver of cloud migration. Many businesses reliant on legacy IT infrastructure are often held back by slow, outdated computing software and/or hardware.
Taking the data and applications from your servers to a cloud computing environment can unlock opportunities for growth and speed up your time to market (TTM) for new products and services.
For example, suppose a team of graphic designers invests in cloud storage for all raw images, PSD files, collateral, and final client submissions. Moving these files to the cloud means the team no longer has to be in a co-located office to collaborate on shared projects.
What Are the Types of Cloud Computing Environment?
If you’re considering a cloud migration for your company, you might be overwhelmed by the sheer number of cloud solutions on the market. Most cloud services, however, fall into three categories of environments.
1. Public Cloud
Public clouds are cloud computing environments owned and managed by a third-party cloud service provider, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, or IBM Cloud. Generally speaking, these providers charge enterprise subscription fees for customers that can be paid on a monthly basis or annually.
You can think of a public cloud as a building where “tenants” rent individual spaces or entire floors. You and other public cloud tenants share the same hardware, storage, and network devices — hence the term “public.” While this may seem unsafe, a 2020 report by IDG found more than half (58%) of business users have more trust in public cloud providers’ security protocols than in their own IT departments.
2. Private Cloud
If public cloud environments provide shared access of hardware and storage to different users, then private clouds are the complete opposite — they’re dedicated to a single end-user or group. Private cloud services are ideal for businesses that prefer to keep their mission-critical applications confidential while providing users with a user interface on the front end.
Traditionally, private clouds were sourced from on-prem IT infrastructure, using virtualization and resource management tools to create a secure web-based environment. However, cloud providers now provide private data centers, leading to two subtypes of private cloud environments:
- Managed Private Clouds: These are private cloud environments that are configured and managed by a third-party provider. They’re ideal for organizations without the IT teams or skills to run private cloud services.
- Dedicated Private Clouds: These private clouds are built-to-order environments that can be hosted on your premises or in a cloud service provider’s data centers that only your organization has access to.
3. Hybrid Cloud
A hybrid cloud is a seemingly single IT environment where computing power, networking, and storage are distributed across a combination of on-prem infrastructure as well as public and private cloud services.
This setup offers the ability to change applications between different (but connected) on-prem and cloud environments — useful for services with varying security requirements. Hybrid clouds also provide the advantage of agility, freeing you from having to rely on a single third-party provider to secure your workloads.
Which Cloud Should Your Business Use?
Ultimately, the answer depends on your business’ needs. Consider asking these questions:
- Do your workloads have high or fluctuating demands? If so, the stability of public clouds may be ideal for you.
- Do your workloads have predictable usage patterns? A private cloud should suffice.
- Do you want the best of both worlds and prioritize agility above all else? A hybrid cloud may be the best solution for the job.
Todd’s world can be a detailed and complex one. As a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (or CISSP for short), with over 20 years of experience in IT and Information Security, Todd helps customers understand the risks with their information, where it is stored and processed, and how best to manage those risks in our ever-evolving digital world. He writes a mean blog and prides himself in turning technical language into simple sentences we can all understand.