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Serviced Cloud - Cloud Services FAQ guide
The answers to questions commonly asked by buyers of cloud computing services
Cloud computing is one of the biggest technology trends of the last 10 years. Why? The fact is that cloud computing is an enormous enabler of efficiency. The growth of cloud computing was accelerated by The Great Recession, chiefly because it:
- Provided financial economy through basing costs on numbers of users and providing predictable monthly billing budgeted under OPEX
- Enabled a much more flexible approach to technology investment, often preventing the need for CAPEX
- Facilitated greater flexibility with staffing levels to cope with fluctuating demand and widespread economic uncertainty
In effect it was a case of right place, right time - cloud computing was in the correct place in its development and came along when the conditions were right for it to flourish.
Today the market has mushroomed. Companies of all sizes and in all sectors are able to take advantage of the benefits of cloud computing. Pricing delivers better value than on-premise approaches to provisioning business technology.
However, ‘cloud computing’ is a collective term, an umbrella for a number of different applications of the underlying cloud technology. There is a lot of choice and the pros and cons of one service over another may not be immediately apparent. The discussion is often technical, preventing decision makers for whom IT is not a primary area of practice from understanding the fundamental distinction between different cloud services and the benefits.
In this guide we run through the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions of those considering the move to the cloud.
Q1. What are the different types of Cloud computing?
Essentially, there are two main types.
Public cloud services are provided by large cloud computing infrastructures owned by a cloud cloud service provider. The resources are shared between all the customers that take that particular type of service from the provider, hence the name public cloud.
Private cloud services are provided by infrastructure owned by, or used exclusively by, the end user business. The business may own the hardware and software but it doesn’t necessarily mean it has the headache of performing management, administration and maintenance and support. Managed Services Providers (MSPs) offer a range of services to eliminate these overheads.
Just bear in mind that it is possible to rent the equipment. When we do this case study of Red Snapper Group you will see what they have done is a deal where they have rented a platform from us – hardware, software – everything, but they have complete administrator level access to the whole thing so their IT department can administer it and install their own software.
Q2. What are the benefits of one over the other?
Public cloud is more cost effective because you don’t buy the hardware or software. With public cloud you are in effect, ‘renting’ it. Private cloud may require you to invest capital to buy the server-side hardware and software. Even when you rent the private cloud hardware it is more expensive than shared resources.
Ensuring data security and privacy are the primary risk factors. Private cloud eliminates shared server infrastructure. Where security is concerned, private cloud eliminates the risk of technical configuration errors or malfunction of shared infrastructure compromising security. In this respect private cloud provides peace of mind.
Q3. What are the main considerations when choosing between public and private cloud?
The main factors governing the choice of public or private cloud are:
How much control do you want over the infrastructure?
Is there a compliance or regulatory code governing the use of cloud technology in your areas of professional practice?
Where compliance is not the overarching consideration, is some level of risk acceptable?
If risk is acceptable, is achieving the lowest price point or security peace of mind an overarching requirement?
Q4. What is a Hosted Desktop solution?
Hosted Desktop provides users with access to desktop computing productivity and communications software, such as Microsoft Office while eliminating the need for servers and other hardware and software on your premises – the familiar approach known as ‘on-premise’. A Hosted Desktop solution could be run from a public cloud or a private cloud.
Good Managed Serviced Providers (MSPs) often assemble a range of core and optional services to enable you to put together a customised service bundle that is appropriate for your business. This may include telephony and even video conferencing and unified communications options.
Q5. What are the considerations when choosing an MSP?
Once you make the move to the cloud, you are likely to be wholly dependent on your Managed Services Provider for the essential cloud technology services that underpin the operational capability of your business. Consequently, it is important to make the right decision. The main factors that determine your choice are:
Do you have an IT team that just needs public cloud and are self-sufficient when it comes to operating the platform? If so a large or mid-sized commoditised cloud service provider may be right for your business.
If you take a lean approach, then you may not have expert skills in-house in the required areas for your business to operate the platform. You need an MSP that provides a full set of management and administration services.
Where your business does not possess the necessary in-house expertise, support is a primary concern. The MSP needs to be able to provide 24/7/365 support for the cloud solution. This may include providing end-user support, if appropriate for your business and, if necessary, on your site.
Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
An SLA is the fine print that ensures you are guaranteed the level of support you require to confidently operate your business in line with the expectations of your customers. Typically it details telephone, remote and onsite service levels and should guarantee a response time and a fix time.
Despite the ability of MSPs to deliver service without ever actually visiting or meeting you, many companies value important business relationships and prefer to align partners through interpersonal contact. From account management to onsite support, make sure this aspect of your chosen service provider meets your expectations.
Q6. What are the comparable costs of cloud computing?
It is difficult to arrive at hard figures for the cost comparison of on premise servers compared to private cloud. Private cloud may not eliminate much in the way of CAPEX because you still need to fund the purchase of the server-side hardware and software and not necessarily because the kit can be rented as part iof the equipment. Private cloud may free your in-house IT team to perform tasks that deliver more value to the business, unless the IT team has retained complete control in which case they may need to administer it.
Public cloud Vs. Private Cloud
Public cloud eliminates the requirement to own server-side infrastructure, eliminating CAPEX and the need to carry depreciating assets on the books. The cost of providing server functionality as a managed service is fixed, predictable and budgeted within OPEX.
Hosted Desktop vs. On-premise servers
A Hosted Desktop solution doesn’t just eliminate servers and their associated paraphernalia as a source of cost. It may also introduce economy by using lower cost thin client desktop hardware, reducing energy consumption.
For a Hosted Desktop solution deployed across an SME of 20 users, the comparative TCO or Total Cost of Ownership, including capital expenditure (CAPEX) and recurring running costs (OPEX) are:
- CAPEX – one-time costs
- Hosted Desktop solution reduces investment costs by approximately 68% compared to a solution based on desktop PCs and on-premise servers.
- OPEX – annual running costs
- Hosted desktop solution reduces annual recurring costs by 33% compared to a solution based on desktop PCs and on-premise servers.
Q7. Should I be concerned about data sovereignty and Safe Harbour?
Yes, you should be concerned. There is uncertainty surrounding the Safe Harbour agreement, which lets American companies use a single standard for consumer privacy and data storage in both the US and Europe. Safe Harbour has been subject to legal challenges and it is unlikely that this will be categorically settled to the satisfaction of all stakeholders anytime soon.
At the heart of it is the US Government asserting that it has the right to request data on UK/EU citizens and businesses from US headquartered companies, even when the storage of information is restricted to European data centres.
To help reveal the full picture around this issue here are some points that you might want to raise with a prospective MSP, to make sure you understand how the service provider delivers your service.
- Does the MSP own the servers and its own data centre or does it rent server space from a third-party?
- Where are data centres geographically located?
- Is data replicated for the purposes of backup to other data centres? If so, where are they?
- To what security standard are data centres certified?
Why is HTL Support a preferred technology service provider to the service sector?
HTL Support has the expertise and experience to help professional services firms meet their regulatory obligations or follow guidelines on the use of technology.
It is our confirmed belief that the cloud offers outstanding opportunities for service sector firms to leverage technology so it returns more value to their businesses. Private cloud solutions enable businesses to enjoy operational benefits of the cloud computing architecture while retaining 100% control of data and meet regulatory guidance.
HTL Support works with in-house compliance experts or external consultants to ensure any solution exceeds interpretation of the applicable regulatory codes. Serviced Cloud is able to provide the appropriate level of services required by the majority of professional services businesses.
About HTL Support
HTL Support is a close knit and highly professional team of technology professionals that are evangelists for cloud solutions. This is because we believe the benefits are unrivalled by equivalent on-premise approaches to provisioning business technology.
The business benefits of the cloud are regularly highlighted in the press and deliberated in boardrooms. Cloud technology is a topic about which the vast majority of business leaders are likely to have more than a passing interest.
Based in the heart of London in Canary Wharf, HTL Support was incorporated in 2009 with a clear and simple vision. We are dedicated to helping business leaders in financial service organisations find the best way of successfully adopting cloud technology in their businesses. We offer best of breed Hosted Cloud Services in our ISO27001 London data centres, and help clients to create their own Private Cloud systems in their own offices or data centres.
Our friendly and professional engineers and consultants have extensive experience, proven track records and ‘can-do’ attitudes. We offer independent advice but partner with the leading cloud technology companies to ensure seamless support. We are serviced focused; our client’s satisfaction is paramount.