Cloud is the new frontier of business computing and delivery of software and applications, and is rapidly overtaking the traditional in-house system as a reliable, scalable and cost-effective IT solution. However, many businesses that have built their own robust data centres and traditional IT infrastructure still rely heavily on this model for security and managerial reasons.
Choosing an IT model for your business is a very important decision. Every company needs a safe and secure storage space, where data and applications can be easily accessed and running costs are kept to a minimum. If you’re thinking of migrating your data from traditional IT infrastructure to cloud based platforms, read on to explore the differences between the two, to better understand the benefits of such a move.
Traditional data centres consist of various pieces of hardware, such as a desktop computer, which are connected to a network via a remote server. This server is typically installed on the premises, and provides all employees using the hardware, access to the business’s stored data and applications.
Businesses with this IT model must purchase additional hardware and upgrades in order to scale up their data storage and services to support more users. Mandatory software upgrades are also required with traditional IT infrastructure to ensure fail safe systems are in place to in case a hardware failure occurs. For many businesses with IT data centres, an in-house IT department is needed to install and maintain the hardware.
On the other hand, traditional IT infrastructures are considered to be one of the most secure data hosting solutions and allows you to maintain full control of your company’s applications and data on the local server. They are a customised, dedicated system ideal for organisations that need to run many different types of applications.
Cloud computing is far more abstract as a virtual hosting solution. Instead of being accessible via physical hardware, all servers, software and networks are hosted in the cloud, off premises. It’s a real-time virtual environment hosted between several different servers at the same time. So rather than investing money into purchasing physical servers in-house, you can rent the data storage space from cloud computing providers on a more cost effective pay-per-use basis.
The main differences between cloud hosting and traditional web hosting are:
The information and applications hosted in the cloud are evenly distributed across all the servers, which are connected to work as one. Therefore, if one server fails, no data is lost and downtime is avoided. The cloud also offers more storage space and server resources, including better computing power. This means your software and applications will perform faster.
Traditional IT systems are not so resilient and cannot guarantee a consistently high level of server performance. They have limited capacity and are susceptible to downtime, which can greatly hinder workplace productivity.
Cloud hosting offers an enhanced level of flexibility and scalability in comparison to traditional data centres. The on-demand virtual space of cloud computing has unlimited storage space and more server resources. Cloud servers can scale up or down depending on the level of traffic your website receives, and you will have full control to install any software as and when you need to. This provides more flexibility for your business to grow.
With traditional IT infrastructure, you can only use the resources that are already available to you. If you run out of storage space, the only solution is to purchase or rent another server.If you hire more employees, you will need to pay for additional software licences and have these manually uploaded on your office hardware. This can be a costly venture, especially if your business is growing quite rapidly.
A key difference between cloud computing and traditional IT infrastructure is how they are managed. Cloud hosting is managed by the storage provider who takes care of all the necessary hardware, ensures security measures are in place, and keeps it running smoothly. Traditional data centres require heavy administration in-house, which can be costly and time consuming for your business. Fully trained IT personnel may be needed to ensure regular monitoring and maintenance of your servers – such as upgrades, configuration problems, threat protection and installations.
Cloud computing is more cost effective than traditional IT infrastructure due to methods of payment for the data storage services. With cloud based services, you only pay for what is used – similarly to how you pay for utilities such as electricity. Furthermore, the decreased likelihood of downtime means improved workplace performance and increased profits in the long run.
With traditional IT infrastructure, you will need to purchase equipment and additional server space upfront to adapt to business growth. If this slows, you will end up paying for resources you don’t use. Furthermore, the value of physical servers decreases year on year, so the return on investment of investing money in traditional IT infrastructure is quite low.
Cloud computing is an external form of data storage and software delivery, which can make it seem less secure than local data hosting. Anyone with access to the server can view and use the stored data and applications in the cloud, wherever internet connection is available. Choosing a cloud service provider that is completely transparent in its hosting of cloud platforms and ensures optimum security measures are in place is crucial when transitioning to the cloud. Please see our How Secure Is Cloud Computing? page for more information.
With traditional IT infrastructure, you are responsible for the protection of your data, and it is easier to ensure that only approved personnel can access stored applications and data. Physically connected to your local network, data centres can be managed by in-house IT departments on a round-the-clock basis, but a significant amount of time and money is needed to ensure the right security strategies are implemented and data recovery systems are in place.
Virtualisation is often confused with cloud computing, but it is actually the technology that underlies the cloud.
Virtualisation is a software that divides up physical IT infrastructures to create virtual environments of dedicated resources. It helps to improve business performance and reduce IT costs by making it possible to run multiple applications and operating systems on the same server, simultaneously. Find out more on our Virtualisation page.