I remember getting a phone call early one morning. And by early, I mean before my alarm went off. It must have been around 5am. And if it hadn’t been a member of my family, I would never have answered. As it was, my mind went into panic mode. Had someone died? That was the only excuse that I could think of for my cousin phoning at that ridiculous hour.
No one had died (thank God). But my panic was nothing compared to the panic I could hear at the other end of the line. Her business’ systems had gone offline completely. They needed someone in Joburg to head to their data centre and problem solve ASAP. But their network architect was all the way on the other side of the country. It would take hours for him to get to the data centre. Add to that the hours of work that it would take to find the issue and bring the servers back online, and they’d have clients unable to access their services for practically an entire day. They weren’t Solid Systems clients (at the time), but we made a plan to help them out.
I like to think of this story when I think of cloud infrastructure. Back then (it was almost a decade ago), the cloud hadn’t really taken off. Don’t get me wrong, the company was able to manage their servers and network from the other side of the country without a problem, but the infrastructure itself wasn’t cloud-based. It may not have been on-premises for the business, but it was still susceptible and required their human intervention when something went wrong.
These days, things are different.
What is Cloud Infrastructure?
When people think of IT infrastructure, they often think of things like servers, networks switches, and all the parts involved in maintaining them like hard drives and RAM. And you may notice that these are all physical objects that you might find in a data centre or onsite server room. But they don’t have to be physical.
Cloud computing has opened the pathway for businesses to manage all of their IT infrastructure without needing to physically manage (or even own) it. Cloud solutions like Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) allow businesses to rent components like data storage and servers at a fixed monthly rate without requiring substantial outlays in terms of both cost and space to house the facilities. While your company can manage how the infrastructure is configured, any upkeep and maintenance are covered by your cloud provider.
Imagine how difficult the scenario I painted above would have looked if the business had been using cloud server infrastructure. It would be far less likely to take place in the first place, as the cloud provider would have been maintaining and actively monitoring the hardware to predict and prevent failure. But even in the unlikely event that a problem did occur, they would have been on hand to address the issue and ensure that business could continue as normal. And that would have been the case whether the business was on the other side of the country or even the other side of the globe!
Which Components Are Needed When Building Cloud Infrastructure?
There are four components that form part of any provider’s cloud infrastructure solutions:
Your cloud provider will have server space available for you to rent. This can be configured according to your needs as a web server, file server or mail server. What you do with the space is entirely up to you. The important thing to know is that the servers are maintained by your provider, mitigating the risk and responsibility involved in maintaining the hardware yourself.
Whether you’re looking for somewhere to store your data while it’s being processed, a central facility for accessing and managing your files, or a backup solution, cloud storage allow you the space that you need. And as much of it as you might need. One of the big benefits of keeping your infrastructure in the cloud is that you can adjust your components on the fly. This helps you to make better use of your budget while at the same time meeting your business’ evolving data requirements.
Not only do cloud providers ensure the maintenance of your facilities, but they also ensure that your servers and storage are available at all times. This means that wherever you are in the world, and whichever device you’re using, you can rest assured that you’ll have access to your cloud computing services. And this can apply to anyone who may need access to your infrastructure, allowing you to easily manage your server and network security.
With all of your server, networking and storage capacity being in the cloud, you may be wondering about how easy it would be to manage and configure the hardware itself. And this is another area where cloud computing infrastructure shines. Virtualization software provides a graphical interface that makes it easy to monitor the facilities and make adjustments as needed, all without needing physical access to the hardware itself.
What Are The Advantages of Using Cloud-Based Infrastructure?
We’ve already mentioned a few of the benefits to making use of cloud computing when it comes to managing your infrastructure, but there are plenty more advantages where those came from:
IT infrastructure has a tendency to be pricy, particularly in the foundational phase when you’re having to dole out down-payments and huge outlay costs. Cloud services, on the other hand, are charged on a fixed month-to-month basis and the fee includes maintenance and server updates.
Finding yourself short on memory or storage space? With on-premises infrastructure, you’d need to buy extra RAM or hard drives, and they’d be yours for good. So what happens when that spike in processing power dies down? Suddenly you’re left with more than you need. Which is far from ideal. You want to be able to upgrade and downgrade your components as and when you need them. And with cloud computing, it’s easy to do just that.
When you partner with a cloud provider, 100% uptime is practically guaranteed. They have access to secure data centres with facilities to ensure that issues like load shedding and overheating are never a concern. Plus they make use of top-of-the-line monitoring software to ensure that no hardware failures catch them off guard.
Not only will your infrastructure be housed in a world-class data centre with round the clock security, but you’ll also be able to intricately control who is able to access your servers, network and storage, and what permissions each user has. You’ll also be instantly notified of any unauthorised access attempts, allowing you to put a stop to attempted attacks before they can happen.
When you manage your infrastructure in-house, you are solely responsible for its maintenance. Your teams will need to keep themselves constantly updated on the latest advancements and patches, and ensure that they’re implemented as soon as they become available, or risk threats like Zero-Day attacks. By outsourcing your infrastructure, the responsibility for upgrades, updates and general maintenance is placed with your cloud provider, mitigating the risk to your business.
Cloud solutions make it easy to give the right people the access that they need, all without risking your security. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, or where your network admin or IT pros are – they’ll still be able to access your servers and networks with ease thanks to virtualisation software.
How compliant is your business?
Cloud computing has become exceptionally advanced over the past two decades, and outsourced infrastructure is the perfect example of how this benefits businesses around the world. But just because the technology is advanced, doesn’t mean its implementation needs to be! With a cloud service provider and IT support company like Solid Systems by your side, you’ll be well on your way to taking advantage of all the benefits that the cloud has to offer. Find out how we can help your business step confidently into the future. Get in touch today.