Infrastructure-as-a-Service for Small and Medium Businesses
The need for companies to have a secure IT infrastructure that optimizes the storage and management of corporate data has led to the emergence of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). Large companies have already evaluated the cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and adaptability of IaaS. The workload of small businesses is less than that of large enterprises; IT budgets are as well much lower. Is it worthwhile for SMB with limited resources to use cloud technologies?
IaaS for small Businesses
IaaS is a virtual version of a traditional data center. For small businesses, using IaaS means that they get access to hardware, software, applications, and services without having to invest in a physical server, install and maintain it. A company can simply rent servers and virtual machines, storage, networks, operating systems, and other computing resources.
Businesses that are considering IaaS should know three main cloud models. The choice of a specific one depends on the company’s needs.
Public cloud is the most common concept of cloud services. In this case, the entire IT infrastructure is located in the data center of the provider, and the client can rent the necessary resources. The provider buys servers, storage systems, network equipment, and other hardware, pays for licenses; supports, upgrades all systems. Provider offers service to a large number of independent customers, sharing the same IT infrastructure that is under its management and control. The client, in turn, gets access to the necessary amount of IT resources for a certain fee.
Private cloud, as opposed to a public, implies that the entire computing infrastructure is under the full control of the organization itself. In fact, it is a flexible, virtualized platform, the resources of which are at the disposal of one organization. Physically, the IT infrastructure can be located both in the data center of the company or outside of it.
The customer can deploy his private cloud based on the provider's IT infrastructure, which allocates a pool of resources of a cloud data center for a company’s exclusive use. In this case, the provider ensures only the overall performance of the IT system or provides a specific set of services under the contract.
Hybrid clouds suggest that a part of the infrastructure is hosted in a public cloud, and another – in a private cloud of your company. The company's part of the infrastructure may not be a private cloud, but a traditional, on-premise infrastructure that does not use virtualization. If it works in paired with a public cloud, then such IT infrastructure can also be called a hybrid cloud. For example, in a hybrid infrastructure, traditional local storage systems can transfer data to a public cloud for processing.
How SMB benefit from IaaS
Cost-reduction. The use of IaaS may seem more expensive. However, after making some simple calculations you will find out that the final cost of on-premise infrastructure per year or more is higher. Companies will need to buy servers, fix them, spend time on configuring, and installing security updates, integrate new hardware with existing solutions. These tasks require the involvement of experienced IT engineers. Not only will they need to support the infrastructure, but also to upgrade as the technology becomes obsolete very quickly. This is often forgotten when comparing the cost of cloud and non-cloud solutions.
Gaining access to IT security and management expertise. Small companies cannot afford to have a full-time professional. They may contract for IT infrastructure management with a freelance IT specialist. It works, but results in unreasonably high costs, especially when the contractor has to visit the sites to do simple tasks. IaaS can be managed entirely remotely, which means companies save money on IT-infrastructure maintenance. Keeping your infrastructure up and running, and regularly updating your systems and applications, is entirely the provider's responsibility.
Disaster Recovery. If a small business is faced with an incident that results in the data loss, in most cases, you can say goodbye to your data. Even if they have enough backups outside the enterprise, the time it takes to recover them on alternative equipment is the time during which the enterprise idle and loses money. There is no such risk in the cloud. The potential for something catastrophic to happen to cloud servers and data storage is extremely low, and even if it does, snapshots and backups can be used to have an identical network running in hours rather than weeks.
Scalability of infrastructure, which SMBs are not able to build themselves. Scalability is not something that most small businesses care about, but the ability to quickly deploy additional servers is an advantage that should be taken into account. From time to time enterprises require a little extra computing resources: to perform tests, or for processing tasks, and so on. This is simple on a cloud platform like Cloud4Y: it takes a few minutes to deploy the server and install the operating system. What is more important, you pay for additional resources only as long as you need them.
Renting a virtual server is one of the most popular services, which is available to SMBs. Its advantages include many of the above: low cost compared to the purchase of "hardware", flexible management of computing resources, security, and easy configuration. IaaS allows the IT department to instantly implement the tasks set by the business without wasting time and effort on matching large costs, delivery of equipment, installation, and configuration of systems.
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