Not so long ago, businesses’ computer centres—’servers’, in the jargon—were usually located in their headquarters. But for more and more businesses, that’s no longer the case. Instead, their servers are located off-site, in the ‘Cloud’, as it’s known. Why? And what are the advantages of such an approach?
These aren’t questions with complicated, technical answers. At its simplest, cloud-hosted infrastructure—in other words, the servers and the computer applications on which your business relies—is less expensive than traditional computing, more secure, delivers a higher uptime, and is more readily scalable.
Plus more besides. Managed cloud-hosted infrastructure, sourced through a managed cloud services provider, is simply a better and more cost-effective way of delivering computer services. Which explains why so many businesses are migrating their computer infrastructure to the Cloud.
So let’s take a look at those benefits in more detail, and explore how best to achieve that migration.
The drawbacks of on-premise computing
The benefits of managed cloud-hosted infrastructure are best understood by thinking about what’s involved with traditional on-site computing, or ‘on-premise’ computing, as it’s known in the jargon.
Typically, businesses need a large, secure room (or set of rooms). There might well be a need for air-conditioning. Obviously, there’s a big investment in the IT equipment itself—corporate-grade servers, network switches, routers, and so on. Software licences have to be acquired.
And then there’s the team of people who manage it, troubleshoot it, take data backups, and generally maintain it. IT salaries are generally on the high side, so that’s quite an investment as well.
Worst of all, perhaps, is that this hefty investment in people, premises, and equipment probably isn’t being used at anything close to full-capacity. Under-utilisation is commonplace, as businesses must over-specify computer capacity in order to ensure being able to meet peak requirements.
Computing as a service—not a hefty investment
Now let’s contrast that with managed cloud-hosted computing infrastructure. Customised dedicated computer space in your headquarters building? No; not required. A hefty investment in dedicated IT equipment, such as servers? No; not required. An expensive dedicated team of people to manage and maintain everything? No; not required.
Instead, businesses are buying computing supplied as a service, provided by a managed cloud services provider.
It’s computing power located in the datacentres of those managed cloud services providers, and which is managed, monitored, and maintained by their people, not yours—24/7.
And it’s also computing power priced and delivered in a different way, too. Instead of requiring hefty chunks of capital expenditure, managed cloud-hosted infrastructure is usually charged for on a calendar basis—per month, per quarter, per year, for instance.
Put another way, it’s computing infrastructure paid for out of operating income, rather than the capital expenditure budget. So it’s more easily affordable.
Managed cloud services – A better approach
Now, think for a moment about the implications of this very different business model.
To start with, let’s think about economies of scale. A datacentre belonging to a managed cloud services provider doesn’t just contain the servers and other computing equipment for your business, but potentially hundreds or even thousands of other businesses as well. That brings efficiencies, and allows overheads to be shared.
Think about the equipment, too. As a mid-sized business, the reality is that you typically have very little buying leverage in the computer equipment marketplace. Not so a managed cloud services provider: they buy—or have custom-built for them—lots of servers. The result? Buying economies, certainly. But also—often—better, faster, more powerful servers. Meaning a higher performance, and a better experience and more responsive for your users.
Equipment utilisation generally improves, too. Depending on how your managed cloud-hosted infrastructure contract is structured, your managed cloud services provider can flex your server capacity up and down as your computing workload changes. More servers during the day, for instance, when usage is higher, and fewer at night.
And of course, the same point can be made about the staff who manage, maintain, and monitor your managed cloud-hosted infrastructure: you’re sharing them with other users, reducing costs—and (typically) getting a better service provision, too. 24/7 cover as standard, for instance.