By Jefferson Eckles, Senior Network Engineer at DP Solutions
You’ve probably heard a lot about the Cloud recently. Everything from smartphones to systems made better by the cloud. But most of us don’t understand what the cloud is. It can seem intimidating and abstruse.
What is the Cloud?
The cloud is broad term that describes a number of different technologies and offerings that have some common characteristics. There are many definitions of cloud computing, but it is generally agreed that cloud offerings have the following attributes:
- They leverage existing Internet technologies and protocols.
- They use a model of shared resources to provide robust offerings at a reasonable price.
- They use a service model, allowing for reoccurring payment model without capital expenditure.
- They allow for payment models that charge for what is actually used.
- They are scalable and elastic, allowing for resources to be added and removed as needed.
These attributes tell us how Cloud companies offer service, but it can still be difficult to understand what the Cloud is really all about.
You are probably already using the cloud in some form. If you have an internet email account or use social media, then you are using the cloud. Those services take advantage of cloud technologies to deliver content and services to users over the web, smartphones and other devices.
Email in the Cloud: An example.
To help us better understand the cloud, we can look at an example of how the cloud can add value to a business. Email is a technology that is used by nearly every business. The cloud can simplify a business’s email offering and reduce overhead.
To set up email for your organization in the traditional manner, you would need to acquire server and storage hardware, make arrangements for appropriate power and cooling, and hire staff to design, implement and support the email infrastructure. If the needs of your organization change and more employees are added or new functionality (such as an archiving solution) is desired, you would have to upgrade or acquire more hardware and have your staff work to redesign and re-implement the solution, while possibly creating outages for your users in the process.
To set up email in a cloud infrastructure, you simply contact the cloud provider and define your requirements. Your email is then set up to your specifications in the cloud and ready for use. No servers to worry about, no cables, no problem. If your requirements change, the cloud provider can leverage their infrastructure to accommodate the changes without capital expense or downtime.
Using the cloud
Of course, email is not the only offering to be found in the cloud. There are many cloud hosted applications. There are also cloud services that provide virtual workspaces so that remote and mobile workers have the access to the same work environment as in-office users. There are even cloud infrastructure providers that allow server and other IT infrastructure to reside in their cloud framework.
The bottom line
Not every business function can reside in the cloud, but as cloud technologies continue to mature the options increase. Every company owes it to themselves to evaluate their IT needs and infrastructure and see if the cloud can add value and reduce costs.
To learn more about Cloud solutions, contact your DP Solutions’ representative at 800.679.4377 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
JEFFERSON ECKLES has been a Senior Network Engineer at DP Solutions since 2011. Amongst other duties, he is responsible for designing and implementing new hosted data center solutions, as well as maintaining and monitoring hosted cloud environments for DP Solutions’ clients. Jefferson holds Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) and CompTIA Security+ and has been in the networking industry since 2001.