Why the Cloud?
"The cloud" is used as standard for many things today: we stream films from the cloud, back up our mobiles to the cloud and, whenever we access a service from a browser, there is a server somewhere in the network behind it. Nevertheless, many companies still run their own physical servers – often without appropriate safety measures in their offices – despite the countless advantages of a cloud infrastructure, even for numerous IT systems where one might not immediately think "cloud".
- "CapEx vs. OpEx" is not everything
- No hardware management – reduced overheads
- Safer and more agile by the day
"CapEx vs. OpEx" is not everything
The most frequently mentioned advantage of "infrastructure as a service" (IaaS) is that if IT resources are not purchased as hardware but sourced as a cloud service, there is no initial investment. Instead, expenses are relatively evenly distributed over the whole period of use and unlike a physical system with its fixed dimensions, cloud resources – and therefore costs – can easily be adapted to new requirements even at a later date.
Depending on the constellation, real savings are possible in addition to these evenly distributed costs. For most workloads, utilization rates vary significantly in the course of a day, a week or a year. If, for example, a new system is sized for peak demand periods at the end of each quarter, the expensive capacity bought for one's own hardware will lie dormant for the rest of the year. By contrast, additional cloud infrastructure can be booked as required and only entails costs for as long as it is actually needed.
No hardware management – reduced overheads
However, in addition to purely financial considerations, the cloud primarily excels in practical terms. Handling hardware over its entire life cycle is associated with recurring effort: from evaluation to start-up and replacing defective components, all the way to upgrading to the next system. On top of this, you also need to run a designated server room or drive to an external server housing location and ensure a network connection at the site in question.
A cloud infrastructure on the other hand offers the proverbial all-round carefree package. Professional, carefully selected and certified data centers provide physical data security. Thanks to rolling life cycle management that takes place in the background, customers have access to up-to-date hardware at all times, while its monitoring and maintenance is guaranteed by specialists at the cloud provider. Redundancy and capacity reserves minimize the impact of hardware problems on customer workloads. In contrast to what is frequently the case for one's own servers, cloud systems are also networked via multiple alternative paths in the Internet. This not only guarantees access to your own service in the case of a malfunctioning connection, but often also reduces latency to your own visitors or customers, which helps improve customer satisfaction.
Safer and more agile by the day
Once the first step has been taken in the cloud, numerous other optimization options become possible. As new servers do not need to be purchased in a complex and expensive process, but are available at the push of a button, upgrades and migrations, for example, are possible with almost no downtime: a new system is installed in the background and productive traffic at time X is simply redirected. When several servers are run in parallel, load balancing and failover set-ups are possible, which further increases reliability. Thanks to "anti-affinity" it can also be guaranteed that these servers are actually deployed on separate physical machines at the cloud provider's end. Particularly high standards can be met through geo-redundant set-ups with physically separate server or cloud locations.
Day-to-day flexibility is just as important as the stable operation of productive systems. By creating and deleting new servers as required, engineers can quickly test new tools without risk, reproduce a problem or do a "dry run" of a tricky procedure. When selling technical solutions and during training, it is useful if customers can play around safely on a standalone demonstration system. Thanks to the integration of cloud APIs into current DevOps tools (such as Ansible and Terraform), the provision and cleaning of short-lived instances of this kind can be largely automated.
Five years ago, the cloudscale.ch IaaS offer went live and has enjoyed continuous growth ever since. Our users regularly confirm to us the advantages of a cloud solution compared to a traditional set-up – not only in terms of contributing to a better overall product for their end customers, but also in terms of making their own work processes easier. Given the many reasons in favor of a cloud infrastructure, it is also clear that its full potential has by no means been exploited and that, in future, other and possibly less obvious use cases could benefit from the flexibility of a cloud infrastructure.
Keeping all your options open,
Your cloudscale.ch team
PS: Although we list server prices per 24 hours here at cloudscale.ch, you benefit from to-the-second billing and any unused time is credited to your account as soon as you delete a server. This means that you always have the appropriate resources available even for extremely short applications.