The cloud is surrounded by misconceptions. From viability, to long term impact, to the death of IT, it can be difficult to find an accurate definition of the cloud, let alone real answers. At the same time, the cloud is becoming more and more essential to business operations. According to Global Web Index, the average digital consumer now owns 3.64 devices. Laptops, tablets, smartphones, and more all create and depend upon an enormous amount of data. At some point, businesses simply do not have the resources to deploy, support, and maintain enough data center equipment to meet data demands. In this climate, the cloud is playing an important role. The cloud provides businesses with a near limitless amount of data center resources on demand and as a service.
However, the cloud is not a set-it-and-forget-it-solution. One serious misconception about the cloud and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) involves the need for managed services. For many cloud deployments, the environment still needs to be managed by either an in-house team or a managed service provider, such as Mindsight. To understand why, some terms need to be established first.
The Many Flavors of Cloud and Why They’re Important
The cloud comes in many shapes and sizes, and not every iteration requires a managed service provider or in-house team to support it. In fact, many companies have already incorporated the cloud into their environment without even realizing it. Every business is different and will therefore find different types of cloud deployments more valuable than others. The key is to parse the umbrella term “cloud” to find the version that makes the most sense for your business.
- Cloud: A cloud data center pools its infrastructure together, so it can better allocate its compute resources to where they are needed most. As a result, the data center enjoys greater overall efficiency and performance. This definition does not necessarily mean that a cloud data center must host multiple businesses with its resources or sell/rent its resources in any form.
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): In IaaS, a cloud data center chooses to rent out some of its infrastructure as a service to other companies. A client company then chooses to rent space in that cloud data center for an agreed upon cost, typically a monthly fee based on the amount of data used. The cloud provider then allows access to this equipment through the internet or a direct connection.
- Software as a Service: Software as a service is related to cloud deployments though not necessarily a cloud deployment in and of itself. In this model, a company owns the exclusive rights to a software that they intend to sell to consumers. Instead of selling an application that is installed in the data center, the application is accessed through a standard web browser. Typically these applications are hosted in a cloud data center.
- Private Cloud: In a private cloud model the client company owns all the hardware and can keep this equipment on-premise (on-prem) or in a cloud data center elsewhere. Effectively, this is a standard data center owned by a private business, but a private cloud still pools its infrastructure together to best allocate its compute resources.
- Public Cloud: The equipment in the public cloud data center is shared among a number of users and accessed via the internet. The equipment itself is owned by a cloud provider and access to these resources is sold to clients as a service. This is closely related to Infrastructure as a Service.
- Hybrid Cloud: In a hybrid cloud, the client company owns only some of the equipment in the stack. For example, their needs may require dedicated storage, but the servers or switches can be shared between other companies within the data center.
The Cloud Misconception: Implied Management and Managed Services
This is where managed services enters the equation. In a private cloud deployment, it may seem intuitive that the company that owns the equipment will be responsible for the management and maintenance of the equipment involved. It is their dedicated equipment after all. However, the waters are murkier in a public or hybrid cloud scenario.
It is easy to assume that because a company’s equipment is both housed at a data center run by a cloud provider and shared by multiple companies at once, the owner of the center will ensure the equipment functions at peak condition. However, this may not be the case entirely.
Yes, a cloud provider’s data center has a team in place to keep the data center running, but they are not responsible for the specifics of the environment. The cloud provider simply delivers the means by which a company can utilize cloud computing. That is all. This concept is called Implied Managed Services.
- Implied Managed Services: The cloud provider’s in-house team will make sure the equipment physically functions, but they won’t address anything involving how their client uses the hardware.
- Example: The cloud provider offers the company a working server and will ensure the server works, but they won’t maintain, update, or troubleshoot any of the virtual machines used within.
Managed Services and the Private Cloud
While there may be pressing reasons to consider a managed services agreement for your hybrid or public cloud deployment, the private cloud can still greatly benefit from managed services. Furthermore, it is important to recognize that a private cloud does not necessarily mean more work, responsibility, and risk. There is particular value to be found in the solution.
- Cloud excels in overall performance, flexibility, and security.
- Private cloud is comparable in cost to on-site infrastructure.
- Businesses with private clouds can work between private and public clouds with ease.
- The private cloud and managed services greatly reduces a business’s space, hardware, and manpower needs.
- Utilizing a cloud and managed services option allows for seamless scalability in both manpower and data center resources.
Managed Services and the Cloud: Final Thoughts
As the cloud becomes more of a reality for all of us, it is important to understand the key terms and factors that will impact our businesses. The public cloud and hybrid cloud do not have managed service agreements built into their deployments, not exactly. A true managed services agreement may still be necessary to fully offload the IT resources and manpower necessary to support your deployment.