Forming an opinion about cloud computing can be difficult since much has been written on this subject and sometimes articles are diametrically opposed. The usability and technical advantages of cloud computing described in those articles are not always crystal clear and often raise more questions than answers. Organizations need help in guiding them through the fog that has been created by the diversity of opinions.
Traditionally, hardware investments are based on expected peaks in workload. This means that a sizable part of your available server capacity is rarely used, except during peak hours.
A major advantage of using cloud computing for your infrastructure is flexibility. You no longer need to invest in systems and building a platform based on an estimated potential load or usage. By using cloud computing you can configure the size of your platform based on its effective usage. Scaling can be done vertically – computational capacity will expand – and horizontally – where new instances are added to the infrastructure dynamically.
A few providers, like Jitscale, even offer the possibility to scale a web platform using the cloud of multiple cloud vendors. In Jitscale’s case, the strategy for using – and how to use – different cloud vendors is based on business logic in the Jitscale Management Layer. When, for example, a very high uptime is required Jitscale will use many different clouds from different vendors to create the highest level of redundancy. It could also be that due to the nature of a platform some clouds will need to be excluded because of legal restrictions. This is the case for some European financial institutes having to comply with EU-regulations with regards to safeguarding personal data.
For companies that service international customers through websites there is also the possibility of using a content delivery network (CDN). Using a CDN, content can be pushed – using specific geographic algorithms – to select clouds near the end-user to ensure a low latency connection, resulting in the best end-user experience.
Another advantage of using cloud computing is its financial model. Cloud computing not only incorporates sharing the same physical infrastructure, but also sharing the costs. The cloud vendor will invest in hardware, data centers, uplinks and – in some cases – even licenses. Because of economies of scale the rates for computer-power, data traffic and storage are kept extremely low compared to traditional infrastructures. Platform costs will be billed based on effectively used capacity and therefore makes pay-per-success possible. Your costs will only increase when the usage of your infrastructure increases and the costs will go down instantly when the usage decreases.
Recent studies show that one of the most used arguments not to migrate an infrastructure to the cloud is security; cloud computing is based on a shared infrastructure. Some cloud vendors are secretive about their security policies and there is a lack of standardization. This is no longer the case since some cloud providers are starting to implement ISO/IEC 27001, an information security management system standard which intends to bring information security under explicit management control. ISO/IEC 27001 requires that management systematically examine the organization’s security risks, taking account of the threats, vulnerabilities and impact. Furthermore, management have to design and implement a coherent and comprehensive set of information security controls and/or other forms of risk adversion to address those risks that are considered unacceptable. Lastly, they need to adopt an overarching management process to ensure that the information security controls continue to meet the organization’s information security needs on an ongoing basis.
In summary, we can conclude that cloud computing has definitely matured over the last years and is able to offer companies many advantages compared to conventional infrastructures, ranging from performance increase and potential cost savings to increasing user experience. ISO-certification makes security arguments obsolete and stresses the fact that cloud computing is business ready. Today.
Eelco van Beek is CEO of Jitscale, a company providing fully managed, secure, on demand, global, auto-scaling, virtualized and shared IT infrastructure-as-a-service. Jitscale has offices in the US and The Netherlands.