The latest report from industry experts Gartner shows that cloud services will continue to drive global IT spend, as increasing numbers of organisations move towards having IT delivered as a service.

The key market drivers include big providers such as Microsoft and Google steering businesses to consume more cloud, backed by the growth of subscription services such as O365, and end of life support announcements on popular hardware.

We like to think of cloud as the fourth utility, delivering IT via the internet, giving the client full control and allowing the flexibility to up and downscale according to business needs. Because it removes the need to own hardware and software and site it on your premises, cloud can also improve security, efficiency and flexibility, as well as cutting costs.

Here at ITPS we have been implementing successful cloud infrastructures for many years. Despite it being a well-established approach, there is still some uncertainty, particularly around security and the myth that you must decide between public and private cloud. This could not be further from the truth.

Every organisation is different and cloud is not for everyone of course, but if you think it might be the right solution for you, how do you know what is the best route for your business? A specialist cloud partner will guide you through the options, but here is a quick overview.

Private cloud: this can be on or off-premise, dedicated to your organisation, running over your own IT infrastructure.

Public cloud:  this involves off-premise IT capabilities or applications, provided by other parties and shared between multiple organisations, using high tech tools to keep your data separate and secure.

Hybrid cloud: an environment that uses a combination of private, public, on and off-premise cloud services. Applications and data switch seamlessly, according to where the computing power is required. Public cloud services can also be deployed in a private cloud model.

For example, client A might hold its business critical applications on its own, on-premise servers and locate other less critical functions at our three data centres; while client B might rent servers in our data centres and hold all applications and data there. In both examples the systems, applications and data can be securely backed up to our data centres. Both solutions would appear to be cloud delivered, but in reality neither is hosted in cloud, merely accessed by cloud.  Client C may operate everything in the cloud or a combination, for instance some in a private data centre or on premise, with some in the public cloud.

There are two main factors in cloud success. The first is having a super-fast, high capacity, high connectivity backbone in place so there is a big enough pipeline to deliver a quality cloud service. Incorrectly provisioned communications will always deliver a poor result.

The second is to choose the right IT partner carefully. As cloud, security, data centre and communications experts with our own £4m ISO27001-certified data centre, we guide our clients towards the right solution for their needs, tailoring cloud models to their specific requirements, including setting their own service level agreements around connectivity, access, and other elements. We also furnish them with fully equipped workspace recovery premises should disaster strike their business.

So what benefits can you expect from cloud?

You only pay for what you use – instead of the cost of maintaining an infrastructure designed to cope with peaks and troughs in demand, cloud pricing works on pre-agreed credit limits that keep costs under control.

Improved resilience and security – your data is in the cloud so no need to worry about lost or damaged devices.

Everything as a service – infrastructure, platform, software, disaster recovery and unified communications can all be provided on a service basis.

Part or all of your infrastructure can live outside your organisation – it’s your choice. A virtual private data centre solution means your infrastructure is independent of physical server requirements, delivering more flexibility and simpler management.

Increased flexibility – you have instant extra bandwidth as and when you need it, for instance to spin up new virtual servers to test applications in a live environment without affecting service.

That’s a very simple outline of cloud services and how they can benefit your organisation.

Hundreds of clients, from SMEs to financial institutions and emergency services, trust our experts to help them create and manage an increasingly complex technology infrastructure. If you’re still uncertain about what cloud can bring to your business, give us a call and we will talk you through the options, and help you create a model that is right for your needs.