Rethink Your Definition of the Cloud

December 6, 2022

Rows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere, I’ve looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun; they rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would’ve done; but clouds got in my way

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now; from up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions, I recall. I really don’t know clouds at all.

Over fifty years ago, Joni Mitchell penned one of her most famous songs, Both Sides Now, which opens with the many ways clouds can be viewed. It could very well be an anthem for today, given the perceived illusions around cloud computing.

The fact is, most people don’t know clouds at all. If your understanding starts and ends with Azure, AWS and Google, you may be one of them.

For a clear definition, let’s turn to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the government agency founded in 1901 and the world leader in creating critical measurement solutions and promoting equitable standards in technology.

  • According to the official NIST definition, “cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”

Five Essential Characteristics

In their official documentation, NIST includes the fact that the cloud is composed of five essential characteristics, regardless of how it is delivered (i.e., as a Service) or deployed.

  • On Demand Self Service: A cloud customer can provision services at any time and is charged for what is used.
  • Broad Network Access: Cloud services are ordinarily offered globally, and the consumer is encouraged to place services as geographically near its customers as possible.
  • Resource Pooling: Cloud services are multi-tenant, which means that different customers are isolated. You should never see another customer’s data and vice versa.
  • Rapid Elasticity: A cloud services customer can accommodate variable traffic patterns by configuring their services to scale accordingly —up, down or off — sometimes automatically.
  • Measured Service: The cloud offers services on demand, which are metered. Once again, customers pay only for provisioned resources.

The giants in the public cloud space are Microsoft Azure, AWS and Google Cloud (which, according to TechTarget, represent 62% of total market share), but there are a growing number of specialized “independent” cloud providers – BackBlaze, Digital Ocean, Wasabi, Salesforce Cloud, CloudFlare, to name a few – that can offer significant cost savings if their offering fits the bill.

Private and Hybrid Clouds Step In

Highly regulated industries such as financial services and healthcare demand a higher level of security and governance. In addition, it’s estimated that as much as 70% of workloads run outside of the public cloud due to data gravity, app dependence, compliance concerns, etc., (according to the IDC Cloud Pulse Survey, 4Q21).

The reality is that a hybrid cloud is often the best course of action for most companies, with applications and data running in an environment that makes the most sense from a cost, security, performance, and accessibility standpoint. So, for example, some legacy workloads need to remain on premises, while others can greatly benefit from the speed, elasticity, and availability of resources in a public or private cloud. Many organizations depend on two or more cloud providers to suite the unique needs of their business units.  For example, a B2B services company may unify their sales, marketing, and customer service departments in SalesForce Cloud, while maintaining a separate private or dedicated cloud for operations, inventory and accounting.

Although it is technically called a private cloud, HPE GreenLake is what we refer to as a “dedicated cloud,” delivering a modern private cloud experience to support your on-premises workloads with bare metal, containers, and virtual machines (VMs) running in any combination across your edges, colocations, and data centers. It combines self-service resource access for developers with consumption and performance transparency for IT—and consumption-based fee structure (pay for what you use). It delivers many of the benefits of the public cloud – maximum agility, scalability, built-in support and maintenance  – but with better security, performance and governance, especially when delivered with Morpheus Cloud Management.  (See this recent CRN news article on HPE GreenLake featuring CPP Managing Partner Pat O’Dell.)

Which Cloud is Right for You?

When factoring all of the above – numerous cloud providers, deployment models, and service models – it is very difficult to do an apples-to-apples comparison and determine which one (or combination of several) makes sense for your organization.

CPP offers a variety of assessment services (paid and unpaid) to help our customer navigate this process. For example, our Infrastructure Anywhere Assessment (IAA) allows us to conduct a highly sophisticated cost/benefit analysis of a myriad of options available to your organization, factoring in vertical market specific regulatory/compliance/security factors in the process. In less than two weeks, and no more than three hours of your staff’s time, we can present our findings in a concise report.

This unbiased assessment could conclude a public cloud (with AWS or Azure) is the best course of action, or it could point to a multi-tenant solution using 11:11 Solutions (formerly iland), a dedicated cloud with HPE GreenLake, or a traditional private cloud, among other possible scenarios. You can choose to implement the new infrastructure configuration internally, with support from CPP’s Managed Services Division, or as a complete outsourced engagement with CPP’s Infrastructure team.

It is by far the most intelligent, cost-effective and efficient path to your company’s ideal cloud infrastructure. Learn more here.