What are Cloud computing advantages and disadvantages launch cover

Enterprise cloud computing – how is it disrupting the IT industry?

date: 15 December 2022
reading time: 6 min

Cloud computing has been on the rise for several years as companies migrate their services onto the cloud, accelerating their digital transformation. Switching from an on-site to a cloud-based solution not only comes with a whole host of long-term cost benefits, but it also increases a company’s security, affords them access to a greater range of services and mobilises its operations. An important part of having a good cloud strategy for large companies is to engage with enterprise cloud computing.

I don’t need a hard disk in my computer if I can get to the server faster… carrying around these non-connected computers is byzantine by comparison.
Steve Jobs
late Chairman of Apple (1997)

Enterprise cloud computing

The enterprise cloud computing model amalgamates public, private and distributed clouds together into one single unified cloud environment. This affords the company a centralised control point from which they can manage their cloud applications and all other cloud-based infrastructure. This ultimately supplies an enterprise with a consistent, high-performing and seamless experience.

Enterprise cloud computing involves all ICT infrastructure operating through either a private or public cloud, providing a single point of control for the company to manage all applications and data seamlessly in the cloud. The resources used in the enterprise cloud computing effort include CPU stores, servers, network infrastructure and virtualisation capabilities. It rests behind a secure firewall, delivering web services through the use of applications which help to meet the company’s business needs.

Enterprise cloud computing benefits

There are lots of benefits to cloud migration. The most obvious ones relate to both cost savings and overall security. It is expensive to acquire, maintain and secure your own servers and systems – it also takes time. You need to hire in-house IT security experts and everything needs to be constantly monitored and maintained. All of these costs add up, and when your enterprise simply cannot afford to compromise on their security, a cloud solution is really beneficial.

As the enterprise cloud computing model utilises a mixture of public, private and distributed clouds, companies are free to pick and choose the services they use on demand. This allows enterprises to save money by optimising the services they actually use and offers a huge opportunity for growth as they are able to scale up or down in an agile manner. Companies can be safe in the knowledge that their data is secure, they can achieve a faster time to market and they can re-appropriate their ICT infrastructure to more business-focused tasks.

Another business benefit of cloud computing is greater business resiliency in the form of disaster recovery. If your business is the unfortunate recipient of an attack, you will be safe in the knowledge that your cloud providers are able to recover all of your precious data.

Scaling models

When it comes to scaling in enterprise cloud computing, there are two keywords to think about:

  1. Scalability – this refers to the system’s ability to increase its workload with existing resources.
  2. Elasticity – this refers to the cloud system’s ability to shrink or expand dynamically in response to changing workload demands.

Still confused? Think of it like this: the system’s scalability is the long-term ability to deal with growth (or reduction) of resources in a slower, pre-planned and managed way. This is ideal for companies that forecast and hit steady growth, and need a model which matches needs.

Conversely, a system’s elasticity refers to being able to deal with sudden, short-term spikes in web traffic or utilisation. An appropriate metaphor would be the spike in energy usage during half-time in the football World Cup final when millions of people suddenly get up and switch their kettle on to make a cup of tea or coffee!

Both scalability and elasticity are important features in cloud computing. Which one gets more priority from a company depends on whether the business has predictable workloads, or workloads that are highly variable.

Different types of enterprise cloud architecture

There are four main cloud computing frameworks:

  1. Private clouds – private cloud storage specific to a person or company and stored locally.
  2. Public clouds – these include freely available cloud systems such as Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.
  3. Hybrid clouds – this is a mix of storage and computing services made up of on-premises infrastructure, private and public cloud solutions.
  4. Multi-cloud solutions – a mix of multiple cloud providers, this solution allows companies to cherry-pick the best features of many different cloud systems to optimise their needs. This approach embodies the enterprise cloud architecture method.

Where a traditional on-site model means that the full responsibility for building, maintaining and securing all their systems falls on the company themselves (and at their expense), there are various models of cloud solutions which can be adopted to mitigate some of these liabilities. There are three main types of cloud computing service models:

  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) – This model places the ultimate responsibility for security and management on the client. They are able to utilise the provider’s infrastructure and its features to optimise their processes, almost completely independently.

  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) – This model provides clients with a secure platform on which they can develop applications. The client has less overall responsibility as it largely falls on the provider. In practice, it is similar to the IaaS model, but with a great accountability emphasis on the provider, which can be extremely useful for the client.

  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) – This final model goes a step further than the previous two by actively involving the provider in negotiating responsibility ownership in key areas of the business. The provider works closely with the client to fulfil their needs and lead (or support) wherever necessary. The provider is able to host on the client’s platform, but with the provider enjoying all the support, cost and security benefits of external hosting.

Choosing the right enterprise cloud provider for your business needs

When searching for the best enterprise cloud provider for your needs, there are a few key areas to consider. Firstly, it’s important to define your needs:

  • How agile do you need to be?

  • Is elasticity or scalability more important to your enterprise?

  • Will you opt for a mulitcloud solution (as is most common with enterprise cloud computing) or are you looking for a more hybrid model?

  • Which cloud computing model best suits your needs?

  • How flexible do you need your provider(s) to be?

Enterprise level ICT infrastructure needs to be secure, comprehensive and robust. At this level, companies are turning over millions (if not billions) of dollars annually, so choosing the right enterprise level cloud provider is no mean feat. It is important that you choose a provider you trust; one who understands your needs and is happy to work to them closely. Your partner should be able to clearly demonstrate a solid track record of release stability so that when the time comes, you can be confident that your products and services will roll out smoothly with minimal disruption.

In addition, make sure that your cloud provider can offer you scalability, and take advantage of economies of scale where possible. Delivering the same services internally as you can do with an external cloud computing partner is far more expensive, so choose a partner who can jump on board and accelerate your growth to heights you haven’t even dreamt of.

Look to utilise standardised services to keep costs low but don’t be afraid to customise when the situation calls for it. Last but not least, make sure to retain flexibility; the cloud services market is still relatively young, and it is growing each and every day. It is pretty straightforward to migrate your enterprise from one service provider to the next, so keep your options open and have your wits about you, waiting for that next big opportunity!

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