How cloud computing helps save your time and money
Cloud computing as a service is around 15 years old, and more than 50% of businesses globally run their IT operations in the cloud, according to the PWC report. However, there still are quite a lot of companies who are afraid of the hurdles of transition to the cloud and keep wasting their resources on outdated processes and technology, thus losing a competitive edge. If this is your case and you want to rectify the situation, we can explain how cloud computing helps you save time and money and how IT Svit can assist you with getting the most out of your cloud investments.
Cloud introduction was nothing short of a revolution. An idea of a common pool of resources combined through virtualization and available to anyone upon request helped reduce CAPEX, OPEX, time-to-market for new products and features, time to resolution for incidents and other risk factors. This allowed nimble startups to successfully compete with and overcome bulky enterprises that are still running outdated infrastructures and are working by outdated workflows. If gaining such a competitive advantage to help your business succeed is your aim — read on!
What is cloud computing?
Everybody knows what a dedicated server is. Whether it stands in your server room or in a remote data center, it is a box of hardware with a disk drive, CPU, some volume of RAM, some Ethernet bandwidth and other chips and some fans for cooling. It has the following limitations:
- a specific chipset that cannot be replaced
- a specific CPU with limited power
- a specific volume of RAM
- a limited disk drive
- a limited I/O capacity.
You buy it yourself or rent the equipment from the data center. This server has to be manually installed and configured. It runs 24/7, even when your team is sleeping, on weekends or on holidays — you still pay for that server. It provides a specific amount of computing resources, and you pay for the package, regardless of how much resources you actually use. This server is located somewhere geographically and can be accessed only through one IP address, even if by several various routes. Most importantly, it can break at any time, so to have one server you should actually have another for backups – and the third one for load balancing — and as these three servers become outdated, you have to replace them. All of these limitations are quite obvious, costly and they hinder business growth a lot.
In March of 2006, a new approach was offered by Amazon, which officially launched its Amazon Web Services, the first cloud computing provider. The company allowed anyone to rent their existing server infrastructure, not for a flat fee, but on a Pay As You Go basis — so you end up paying only for the resources you actually consume, not for the whole package. Most importantly — all of these resources are combined into pools, so-called Availability Zones, which include all the hardware in all the AWS data centers in some geographical location, which are split not into pieces of hardware, but into virtual segments, so-called instances. These instances are flexible and can be configured to meet your unique needs.
You can rent any type of instance you need and the main benefit is that these are SCALABLE. If you suddenly need more resources due to a steep increase in workload — it can be easily done from your dashboard, and a new instance will be operational in minutes, not hours. Below we list 6 main benefits of the cloud, as compared to the dedicated server.
6 benefits of cloud computing
We listed the major limitations of a dedicated server hosting above. Let’s see how cloud computing solves these challenges:
- Global access. When your product or service runs in the cloud, it can be accessed by a myriad of paths within your Availability Zone – so there will not be any traffic bottleneck. Even more importantly, your applications can be distributed across multiple Availability Zones, so the users in Europe connect to one instance, while the US users are served by a different one.
This is also useful for distributed teams, which is the preferred approach of many startups. Team members can communicate and collaborate in the cloud while storing the code on GitHub and being geographically dispersed. More than 66% of startups and small businesses that responded to Gartner review in 2018 stated that transition to the cloud helped them make their customer-serving operations and mission-critical systems more flexible and productive.
- Efficient computing allocation. You can calibrate the instance to meet your normal operational patterns — and built-in scalability will ensure additional resources are available upon request, as we described earlier. Forget about waiting for hours or days for a new server to come online. Adjust your cloud infrastructure in minutes!
- PAYG means cost-efficiency. Your cloud systems always run at optimal capacity. When your team sleeps, goes on a weekend or on a vacation — you can scale down the cloud infrastructure to minimize the expenses. The freed-up resources will be returned to the pool and be used by other customers — and you can quickly scale back up when the need arises. the same works for customer-facing production environments — they can scale up and down depending on workloads, so you will never have to pay for idle servers just in case they are needed.
- Maximum performance. Cloud service providers like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure and others are the primary consumers of all new tech and manufacturers of the latest software. Machine Learning, Big Data analytics, blockchain applications, serverless computing, Industry 4.0, edge computing, smart cities and smart homes — all of this is possible only due to the cloud and becomes available to all cloud users immediately after the release. Thus said, when working with the cloud platforms, you can be sure your business is future-proof, and implementing the latest tech will be much easier, as compared to doing it on-prem.
- Security. More than 80% of Fortune500 global enterprises store their sensitive data with MS Azure. The US Department of Defence stores its data with AWS. CIA operates its IT infrastructure with AWS and GCP. Cloud is secure, due to both watertight physical security measures and multiple architectural date security features, like RSA encryption, container security and security meshes. Even a DDoS attack can be easily mitigated using CDNs, which identify the malicious traffic, filter it out and block the incoming channels — all the while you sleep safe and sound.
- Business as a priority. Running your business successfully requires stable accessibility of mission-critical systems and uninterrupted end-user experience. Cloud computing provides high-availability, meaning your data is regularly backed up and replicated, so a failure of some system modules will not affect your operations. Having no need to worry about your servers 24/7, you can dedicate more resources and efforts to reaching your business objectives — and cloud platforms provide lots of tools for that!
By now you might want to remind us that free cheese can be found only in a mousetrap. Well, there is one condition: to use the cloud efficiently, you must know how to use the cloud efficiently. Otherwise, you might end up with giant bills, as your systems demanded too many resources — and the cloud provided them. To avoid this, you must know how to configure your cloud infrastructure and workflows right. In other words, you need DevOps expertise.
What is DevOps and how can it help you get the most out of your cloud computing investments?
4 years after the AWS cloud release, software engineers came up with the idea of how to align the outdated software delivery culture with updated technology. DevOps is a practical implementation of Agile software development methodology, a culture of automating most of the routine infrastructure operations to streamline and simplify the software development and infrastructure management processes.
DevOps workflows are built on 4 key pillars:
IaC or Infrastructure as Code is an approach to system configuration, where all runtime environment parameters and settings are codified with simple descriptive language in textual files, which are called Terraform and Kubernetes manifests. These manifests are stored in your GitHub repository as any other code and can be adjusted and versioned as easily. Any developer can launch them and provision the required build, testing or staging environment without the need to wait while a system administrator configures it — or keep a test server farm running.
This solves a huge range of problems, from much shorter time-to-market for new products and features, to a significant reduction of bug numbers and ensuring continuity of environments, all the way from an IDE to production. This solves the main issue of software development — “works on my machine”, where the same code operates differently depending on the environment where it runs. With IaC, your code operates exactly the same everywhere, which means much more stable product operations.
CI or Continuous Integration is a DevOps best practice of doing software development in short batches. Instead of developing new features in separate GitHub branches and experiencing multiple merge conflicts while trying to integrate them in the main project, every developer writes the code in small chunks, runs automated unit and integrity tests using manifests to create the required testing environments, and pushes the tested code to the main trunk. This way, you have a fully-operational product that is always at its latest version and can be seamlessly updated. This is much better than waiting for annual releases, yes?
CD or Continuous Delivery is the practice of using certain DevOps tools to create automated workflows (so-called CI/CD pipelines), where multiple operations are executed in turn, using the output of the previous stage as the input of the next stage. For example, a developer can launch 1 script to pass the new batch of code through code commit, build, test and staging environment, where it can be tested by QA specialist and turned into a new in-app release or rolling update to be delivered to end-users without any downtime.
In the cloud infrastructure management field, CI/CD pipelines help automate the management of complex systems, as well as various routine operations like backups, replication, updates, scaling, data mining and processing, Big Data analytics, blockchain operations and much more.
The most important is the collaboration principle, however. All the company understands that the system administrators and Ops engineers are the most important people, as they run the software and underlying infrastructure, so they have a major say in all questions related to that. They are freed from unnecessary managerial control and micromanagement and tasked with a single goal — make sure there is no downtime and software is developed according to schedule.
To ensure such a result, these DevOps engineers must communicate and collaborate with Devs and QA engineers to discuss the best way to run your applications in production and develop new features. This allows them to plan the required system architecture, create the needed Terraform manifests for provisioning new product features and build CI/CD pipelines to automate this process. Then the Devs can use these pipelines to build the code quickly, while the DevOps engineers can concentrate on monitoring and running your production environments to ensure cost-efficiency and reliability of your IT operations.
DevOps culture helps startups and SMBs win the competition with large enterprises, as they can provide flexible services and adjust to the customer demands quickly while utilizing all the benefits of cloud computing. The key challenge here is the lack of skilled DevOps engineers on the market. Many companies try to obtain this expertise themselves, but the way of trial and error might be very costly. This is why many businesses are outsourcing their cloud infrastructure management and optimization to trustworthy DevOps service providers, who can ensure stability and cost-efficiency of operations so that your business can innovate, gain a competitive edge and succeed.
As a Managed Services Provider, IT Svit has ample experience with cloud infrastructure management and optimization, building CI?CD pipelines and providing end-to-end solutions for any business needs of our customers. Should you be interested to work with us — we would be glad to assist!