Cloudy With a Chance of Confusion

By now we’ve all heard about cloud computing and, even if you work in IT, you might still be a little unclear as to what that refers to. A quick search on the net will show that there are multiple definitions; and all of them differ slightly. Of course, it’s not uncommon for the IT industry to disagree, so let’s try and summarize with a definition our own.

Cloud Computing describes a scenario whereby computing resources, servers, storage, databases, networking, software, etc. are delivered on demand and as a service over a network connection, which is usually, but not always, the internet.

That’s quite a mouthful but at least it gives us starting point for our brief trip into the clouds. Now you’re probably going to ask, what’s up with all the different types of clouds we hear about? And what are all these acronyms that end with ‘aaS’?

Let’s look at the types of clouds first. You would have heard about, Public Clouds, Private Clouds, and more recently Hybrid clouds. They all have specific use cases and your choice of cloud will be influenced by the level of security, agility and manageability required.

  • Public Cloud services and infrastructure are provided off-site over the Internet
  • Private Cloud services and infrastructure are maintained on a private network, usually on premise
  • Hybrid Cloud services and infrastructure are combination of public and private giving you the flexibility to place workloads in the location that best match their performance and security requirement.

Now that we understand the “where”, we can look at the cloud computing stack, and what those ‘aaS’ acronyms refer to.

Simply put, the differences between, Iaas, Paas, and SaaS come down to which components you want to manage, and which components you’d like the cloud provider to manage.

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
    • Cloud provider manages the networking, storage, servers and virtualization.
    • You manage the Operating System, Database, Security, and Application.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS)
    • Cloud provider manages the networking, storage, servers, virtualization, Operating System, Database and Security.
    • You manage the Application.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS)
    • Cloud provider manages the networking, storage, servers, virtualization, Operating System, Database, Security, and Application.
    • You sit back and relax.

The figure below shows where some of the popular cloud providers fit into the public, private, and hybrid vs IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS space.

Figure 1– Popular cloud providers

Now that you, hopefully, have better understanding of cloud computing you might think you’re ready to start migrating applications to the cloud.


Before jumping on the cloud bandwagon, it is important to assess the applications or services you plan to migrate, the cloud model and stack, as well as the service providers you’re considering in terms of the following factors:

  • Security
    Evaluate the data sensitivity of the application or service. Highly sensitive data might be more suited to a private cloud model due to security concerns or regulatory conditions. Pay attention to the provider’s adherence to security standards.
  • Compliance
    Determine if there are any compliance implications with migrating data to the cloud. Make sure the cloud provider can meet the SLAs you need for your data, and if not, implement additional measures to supplement what they offer.
  • Visibility
    Gain good insight into your unstructured data landscape. Assess the age, access patterns, and validity of the data, before deciding if it should be migrated or purged.
  • Elasticity
    Assess your application resource requirements. Applications with unpredictable of fluctuating resource requirements are a good fit for the cloud as resource are available on demand when needed, and released when not required.
  • Migration
    Investigate, in detail, the process of in migrating your application or data to and from the cloud. Make sure you’re aware of the administrative and commercial, implications if you need to migrate back.
  • Data Protection
    Most cloud service providers do not provide adequate data protection for the applications or services hosted on their platform. Once a service or application is running in the cloud it still needs to be protected in most cases. Backup and recovery is possible to, from and in the cloud depending on the cloud stack (IaaS or PaaS).
  • Availability
    Not every provider offers enough performance and availability for TIER 1 applications. A well architected hybrid cloud design utilizes both public and private cloud to ensure all applications get the performance level they require.
  • Disaster Recovery
    The cloud need not only function as the primary location for applications, it can function as secondary or disaster recovery site as well. Hosting a disaster recovery site in the cloud (disaster recovery as a Service or DRaaS) can be very cost effective as opposed to a traditional DR site.
  • Operational Cost
    And finally, when evaluating the cost of cloud, it is important to not only focus on the subscription costs but thoroughly compare subscription costs with all the visible and hidden costs of acquisition, maintenance, and operation of the existing on premise service or application.

To summarize, all well planned cloud migration strategy is the first step on a long journey into the cloud, and having industry experts available to guide you will make the journey a lot less turbulent. Get in touch with Condo Protego if you’ve started, or are thinking of cloud adoption.

by Riaan Badenhorst,

 Riaan is our Data Protection and High Availability Solution architect, Veritas Evangelist, Cloud Enthusiast, and all round Problem solver.

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