1. Enterprise Grade Hardware and Software
Many customers find themselves constantly wrestling with their IT budgets. To implement and sustain operations customers are faced with constraints that lead them to purchase hardware that lacks redundancy and performance and software packages or versions that are limited in features. Cloud operators must be ready for all types of customers and applications so large enterprise grade server farms, storage arrays, networks, security, and software are readily available. By moving to the cloud, customers can pay only for what they utilize making access to a better class of IT services and platforms a reality.
2. State-Of-The-Art Data Centers
Another common issue many companies suffer from is the closet-turned-server room is just not sufficient to run a true IT infrastructure. These in no way compare to the mega data centers that cloud providers operate in. Power to standard office spaces is not fed to the building redundantly, battery and generator backup are generally not available, cooling and humidity control are inadequate, and there is an increased risk of theft, vandalism, and fire.
3. Multiple Transport and Internet Providers
Most customers are not willing to take on the expense of a multiple internet or transport service providers. Access to customer buildings is most likely provided by the incumbent LEC or the franchise cable provider in the area leading to limited competition and lack of access path redundancy. Cloud providers often operate out of data centers with diverse fiber paths that are serviced by multiple tier 1 transport and internet service providers. Sufficient operational and backup capacity is a must to ensure the Cloud provider meets their SLAs.
4. Scale on Demand
In many cases once a customer capitalizes their IT investment that is it. More resources or capacity would require a significant amount of additional investment and if budget permits the investment, time to procure, install, test, and integrate/migrate then become a challenge. Cloud provider’s posses sufficient resources to scale and by simply adjusting the hosting agreement the resources needed to operate optimally can be added in a matter of minutes. Many cloud providers also offer the unique capability to not only ramp up when business needs call for it but to also scale back down when the need arises to help maintain costs.
5. Significantly Reduce Lifecycle Headaches
Face it folks…all IT solutions have a shelf life. Servers are usually 3-5 years, Storage and networks is 5-7 years, software is 3-5 years. Once you make a purchase the clock is ticking as to when you are going to have to replace it, which leads to significant costs, project work, and outage time for transition. Cloud providers significantly reduce lifecycle headaches by maintaining constant upgrade to the latest and greatest hardware and software versions. This is necessary in order to meet customer service and performance requirements, maintain vendor support, and drive sales. Lifecycle upgrades at the Cloud Provider level are handled without additional cost and with minimal operational impact to the customer.
6. Trade CAPEX for OPEX
Fairly simple and straight forward tradeoff allowing the customer to minimize upfront expense (Capital Expenditure = CAPEX) for hardware, software, and engineering in favor of a monthly recurring cost (Operational Expenditure = OPEX) model that allows customers to focus capital funding on running or growing their business. The OPEX model also offers benefits of a predictable fixed monthly recurring cost, eliminating cost surprises resulting from failures of onsite hardware.
7. Engineering Expertise
Cloud Providers and ISPs in general maintain a level of expertise that far surpasses that of your average organization. The SLAs that Service Providers guarantee require a level of architecture and engineering expertise to ensure that server platforms, storage, networking, security, and software is selected, architected, engineered, and maintained to provide minimal downtime. To retain this level of expertise organizations would have to fork out big dollars for employee or consulting engineering support.
8. Reliability and Fault-Tolerance
Cloud providers have everything to lose if customers systems are down and/or cannot be accessed. They lose their monthly revenue and potentially their customers depending on the impact to the customers operations. Primary and backup operations centers, power and cooling availability (battery, generator), diverse internet and transport carriers, redundant server hardware, replicated RAID protected storage arrays, high-availability network design, proactive management, and software availability features such as HA, clustering, and vMotion are used to ensure SLA metrics are met.
Security of a customer’s network is as important in the cloud as availability. Once again, security vulnerabilities in the cloud lead to customer systems being impacted, SLA metrics not being met, the provider forfeiting their monthly revenue, and potentially customers leaving in fear that they may be hacked. Cloud providers leverage best-in-class security platforms, tools, and expertise to ensure that their cloud is secure, their revenue continues to flow in, and customers continue to trust their operations to the cloud.
10. Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
I have mentioned the SLA several times so far but this is an extremely valuable tool for customers to ensure the provider is delivering services that meet the customers needs. The SLA provides leverage to the customer in the event that their service is unavailable than they do not pay. This does not make the pain of the system being down go away but it does ensure that there is some accountability on the behalf of the provider in the form of monthly service credits and ability to terminate the contract.