This article sheds some light on the differences between traditional data center and cloud hosting. First, why should you use a cloud like Azure instead of traditional hosting providers?
- Availability. Your applications and data are moved between servers automatically allowing for zero downtime updates. While one machine is being patched your apps run on others. Traffic is seamlessly rerouted to keep you running 24/7.
- No Idle Hardware. You only pay for what you use, when you use it. Servers may automatically be brought online to deal with the Christmas rush, month-end reports or just to speed up logins in the morning. More importantly, those servers are taken down automatically when you’re not using them to save you money.
- Managed Zero Downtime Maintenance. You’re always up to date and kept that way by the staff of the cloud provider. They handle operating system and firmware updates for you.
- Superior Durability. Copies of your applications & data are deployed to use different network switches and power supplies to protect against hardware failures. Options are available at the click of a button to keep copies of your data more than 200 miles away to protect against regional outtages and automatically reroute you there if needed.
- Constant Backups. Point-in-time backups are taken of your data automatically allowing to restore to any time and date.
- Location. You’re a click of a button away from running your applications in the USA, Europe or Asia to give your users the fastest possible response times. Put your application close to your users for the fastest response.
Now for the tedious details on sorting out real cloud providers from impostors with a little help from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The term “cloud” is used with artistic license in sales to the point where it’s usually a false claim. The National Institute of Standards and Technology is quite clear in it’s definition of the term “Cloud Computing.” Here’s the bare minimum from page two of the The NIST Definition of Cloud Computing. If your provider can demonstrate these features, then, and only then are you using a cloud:
- On-demand self-service. A consumer can unilaterally provision computing capabilities, such as server time and network storage, as needed automatically without requiring human interaction with each service provider.
- Broad network access. Capabilities are available over the network and accessed through standard mechanisms that promote use by heterogeneous thin or thick client platforms (e.g., mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and workstations).
- Resource pooling. The provider’s computing resources are pooled to serve multiple consumers using a multi-tenant model, with different physical and virtual resources dynamically assigned and reassigned according to consumer demand. There is a sense of location independence in that the customer generally has no control or knowledge over the exact location of the provided resources but may be able to specify location at a higher level of abstraction (e.g., country, state, or datacenter). Examples of resources include storage, processing, memory, and network bandwidth.
- Rapid elasticity. Capabilities can be elastically provisioned and released, in some cases automatically, to scale rapidly outward and inward commensurate with demand. To the consumer, the capabilities available for provisioning often appear to be unlimited and can be appropriated in any quantity at any time.
- Measured service. Cloud systems automatically control and optimize resource use by leveraging a metering capability1 at some level of abstraction appropriate to the type of service (e.g., storage, processing, bandwidth, and active user accounts). Resource usage can be monitored, controlled, and reported, providing transparency for both the provider and consumer of the utilized service.
Microsoft’s Azure meets all of these criteria and offers a lot more than what’s listed here. Windows and Linux applications both run well in the Azure environment for much less than you’re likely spending now. If you’re about to buy new hardware because of (another) round of obsolescence or you just need more storage & power, you’ll likely save money by moving to a cloud solution.
Aren’t sure what choice to make? Need advice or assistance concerning your cloud migration? Contact us anytime for a confidential consultation. No sales pitches, no pressure, just information.