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The rapid technological advancement of the past few decades has given companies in Australia more options than ever when it comes to managing their IT needs. Yet, it can be difficult to understand not just the nuanced differences between solutions like software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and hybrid cloud solutions, but also when and where each model is most appropriate to fit into your business technology strategy.

To help you determine which of these solutions could play a role in your future IT strategy, let’s take a closer look at each model and look at what it provides, starting with IaaS:


What is Hybrid Cloud?

Hybrid cloud is a sophisticated cloud computing strategy that melds the benefits of private and public cloud environments. This innovative architecture optimises the use of cloud services by blending the control and security of a private cloud with the scalability and accessibility of a public cloud. In a hybrid cloud setup, organisations can strategically allocate workloads and data between these platforms, depending on specific needs and requirements.

Private cloud provides a controlled, on-premises environment where sensitive data and critical operations can be managed securely. On the other hand, public cloud environments offer dynamic scalability and resource availability for varying workloads. By integrating these two spheres through hybrid cloud platforms, businesses can dynamically scale resources up or down, ensuring cost-effectiveness and efficient resource utilisation.

This approach to hybrid cloud infrastructure empowers organisations to adapt to changing demands while maintaining the security and compliance necessary for certain operations. It's a versatile solution that strikes a balance between cloud services, catering to the diverse demands of modern IT strategies.


What is IaaS?

In an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) arrangement, the responsibility for physical infrastructure elements including networking, storage, servers, and virtualisation falls to the IaaS provider – not the business. Companies can then leverage these resources to build and operate virtual machines without the infrastructure investments they’d need to make in order to host them directly on-site.

However, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is simply one of four types of cloud computing, and there are four business models in total: IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and On-premises.

The best way to understand how these three cloud computing models compare with traditional on-premises IT is to look more closely at the specific responsibilities governed by the businesses that use them, relative to the providers that offer them.

As the image above demonstrates, traditional on-premise IT requires that organisations own all of the responsibilities associated with technology management – from the investment in physical infrastructure all the way through to the provisioning and management of user applications.

On-premises IT offers organisations the greatest level of control over the way technology resources are allocated and managed, but it also comes with potentially significant upfront costs and ongoing maintenance expenses. However, there are many situations where this level of investment is appropriate, especially in cases where security or compliance standards require a high degree of control over data.

In an IaaS model, such as that offered by Rackspace or Digital Ocean, costs may be lower as companies are no longer required to maintain physical infrastructure, the real estate associated with it, or the skilled staff members needed to sustain it. At organisations where IT is a non-core activity, transitioning to an IaaS system allows businesses to better focus their resources on more strategic business initiatives.

Next up, PaaS programs such as Microsoft Azure and AWS Elastic Beanstalk shift a greater level of responsibility to the PaaS provider than an IaaS service model. A PaaS provider may take over operating systems, middleware, and run-time, in addition to the elements encompassed by IaaS. In a PaaS arrangement, only application and data management are left for end-user organisations to handle.

Finally, there’s SaaS. When most users think of cloud computing, they think of SaaS programs such as Microsoft Office 365, through which SaaS providers bear full responsibility not just for deploying software, but for managing the technology stack that allows it to be delivered as well. 

SaaS programs are where end-to-end technology resources are managed by the software application provider. Organisations may be responsible for assigning licenses to new users, but after that, all other operations are handled by the SaaS company. One such example of this would be the service Jira, which is widely used in agile workplaces.

Both PaaS and SaaS models extend the benefits offered by IaaS solutions. In particular, there are potential cost-benefit gains if the workload is assessed and redeployed to a PaaS or SaaS model over an IaaS solution. And because less investment is required for resources such as on-premise hardware and internal support structures when opting for services other than IaaS, PaaS and SaaS solutions can often be implemented more quickly, potentially providing functionality that may be impractical for organisations to develop or sustain on their own.


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Benefits and advantages of IaaS

In the ever-evolving landscape of IT infrastructure, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) emerges as a transformative solution for businesses. By shifting from traditional on-premises systems to an IaaS model, companies can unlock a multitude of benefits that revolutionise the way they operate.

  • Cost efficiency: IaaS eliminates the need for investing in and maintaining costly physical hardware. Instead, it offers a pay-as-you-go model, allowing businesses to scale resources and pay only for what they use. This not only reduces capital expenses but also optimises operational costs.

  • Scalability and flexibility: One of the standout advantages of IaaS is its remarkable scalability. Companies can easily scale their computing resources up or down to meet fluctuating demands. This flexibility ensures that IT infrastructure aligns seamlessly with business growth and evolving needs.

  • High availability and reliability: IaaS providers operate data centres with redundant systems, ensuring minimal downtime and 24/7 availability. Additionally, built-in backup and disaster recovery options enhance reliability and protect critical data.

  • Simplified maintenance: With IaaS, the burden of hardware and infrastructure management is shifted to the service provider. This frees up your IT team to focus on strategic initiatives rather than routine maintenance and updates.

  • Geographic reach: IaaS providers often have a global presence with data centres in multiple regions. This geographic diversity enhances data backup and disaster recovery capabilities while providing low-latency access to users worldwide.

  • Security and compliance: Leading IaaS providers invest heavily in security measures, including robust firewalls, encryption, and access controls. Many services are also compliant with industry standards, simplifying adherence to regulatory requirements.

  • Rapid deployment: IaaS enables rapid provisioning and deployment of virtual machines and resources, reducing time-to-market for new projects. This agility is invaluable for businesses seeking to embrace agile development and testing methodologies.

  • Environmental sustainability: Some IaaS providers prioritise environmental sustainability by optimising resource usage and utilising energy-efficient data centres. By choosing such providers, businesses can contribute to reducing their carbon footprint.

  • Access to advanced technologies: IaaS offerings often provide access to cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data analytics. This empowers companies to stay competitive and innovate without the need for significant upfront investments.

Comparing Cloud Computing Models:

Explore the various cloud computing models, including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), and the conventional On-premises approach. This section offers an in-depth and informative comparison of these cloud computing models, highlighting their distinctive features and use cases within the context of hybrid cloud architecture and deployment.


Exploring IaaS Providers

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is the cornerstone of cloud computing, providing the foundational components for hybrid cloud infrastructure. IaaS empowers organisations to dynamically scale their private cloud resources, making it an ideal choice for hybrid cloud environments that demand flexibility, cost-efficiency, and simplified infrastructure management.


Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Platform as a Service (PaaS) solutions, such as Microsoft Azure and AWS Elastic Beanstalk, revolutionize application development within hybrid cloud environments. Unlike traditional on-premises data centers, PaaS allows developers to focus exclusively on coding, reducing time-to-market. With auto-scaling capabilities and cost savings, PaaS enhances productivity and efficiency for development teams in unified hybrid cloud platforms.


Software as a Service (SaaS)

Software as a Service (SaaS) delivers fully functional applications accessible via the internet through a subscription-based model. Users can access these applications on demand from any device with internet connectivity, making SaaS a valuable addition to hybrid cloud environments, complementing private and public cloud resources seamlessly.


Understanding On-premises IT

The On-premises approach represents the traditional model where organisations own, operate, and maintain all hardware and software within their physical premises. While this approach provides complete control over IT resources, it can benefit from hybrid cloud integration to leverage on-demand cloud resources, creating a unified hybrid cloud platform that combines the advantages of on premises data center and public cloud infrastructure.


Hybrid Cloud and how it interacts with IaaS

As the explanations above indicate, on-premise, IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS are all appropriate for different companies, and – in some cases – for different workloads in the same company in different contexts. However, given the complexity of many IT operations, it’s rare for an individual organisation to have a single solution. Instead, individual aspects of the business requirements call for different solutions – and that’s where hybrid cloud can be of benefit.

According to Microsoft:

“Often called “the best of both worlds,” hybrid clouds combine on-premises infrastructure, or private clouds, with public clouds so organizations can reap the advantages of both. In a hybrid cloud, data and applications can move between private and public clouds for greater flexibility and more deployment options. For instance, you can use the public cloud for high-volume, lower-security needs such as web-based email, and the private cloud (or other on-premises infrastructure) for sensitive, business-critical operations like financial reporting.”

Imagine that you work for a bank. Given the strict IT compliance requirements you’re likely operating under, an ultra-secure IaaS solution operated as part of a hybrid cloud program could mean you don’t need to worry about managing, refreshing, or updating the hardware and security of your on-premise data centre. Further, it would make available the resources needed to support new development projects quickly as they scale up or down.


Hybrid Cloud Implementation Strategies:

Effectively implementing hybrid cloud solutions in diverse business environments involves strategic planning and key considerations. Start by defining your specific business objectives, assessing data security needs, ensuring compatibility and seamless integration between on-premises and cloud systems, and planning for scalability and cost management.

Compliance with regulations, robust performance monitoring, staff training, and vendor selection are crucial factors. Rigorous testing, disaster recovery planning, governance frameworks, and comprehensive documentation play vital roles in ensuring a successful deployment. By carefully addressing these considerations, organizations can harness the benefits of hybrid cloud while optimizing performance, security, and cost-efficiency across their IT landscape.

How Hybrid Cloud addresses your business challenges

A hybrid cloud solution addresses many of the business challenges faced by medium or large-size enterprise organisations, including:

  • Unanticipated charges associated with public cloud usage. Although public cloud solutions tend to be more cost-effective than on-site infrastructure investment, the granular nature of their billing – which reflects specific usage across different resource types – can contribute to your cloud bill being higher than anticipated. With a hybrid cloud solution, organisations can ensure their workload is held in the right place, based on their needs. This may mean that not all data sets need to be in the cloud, ensuring greater control over cost management.

  • Compliance-sensitive workloads and governance requirements. As noted above, full public cloud computing may not be appropriate in situations where the appropriate controls are not in place. Hybrid cloud solutions allow organisations to balance usage across multiple systems in order to maintain data sovereignty where it’s required, while still leveraging the flexibility and scalability of the public cloud in other circumstances.

  • The potential for corporate reputation damage in the event of a data breach. Cloud computing introduces a potentially unacceptable level of data breach risk due to human error (although this is still considered a risk with On-premises solutions too). Not only can hybrid cloud solutions provide an important layer of data backups in the event of a breach or other disaster, they can limit human interaction with critical data by maintaining it outside of the cloud. In this way, they may also play a role in allowing businesses to maintain continuity as part of a disaster recovery process.

  • The need to mitigate pressing security risks. Failing to deploy security patches, bug fixes, or other enhancements can contribute to security risks, as can non-optimised operating environments. Within a hybrid cloud solution, patching can be carried out as part of a manual, partially automated, or fully automated process in order to limit the potential impact of these issues.

  • The need to support the excess resource demands driven by innovation. Building and sustaining a competitive advantage – whether through digital transformation or any other initiative – often requires rapid application development or the fast adoption of new technologies. Meeting the technical demands of this development work in terms of data volume, variety, veracity, and velocity may not be feasible with a full on-site infrastructure or private cloud arrangement.

Is Hybrid Cloud and IaaS right for my business?

Determining the optimal cloud solution for your organisation involves considering various factors, including on-premise IT, SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, and the potential adoption of a hybrid cloud platform. These options can be tailored to meet the unique needs of different organisations, whether used individually or in conjunction with multiple service delivery models.

For instance, smaller businesses with minimal IT requirements or those for whom technological innovation is not the primary driver of revenue may find that a hybrid cloud strategy offers more resources and complexity than necessary. However, understanding how hybrid clouds work can reveal the substantial benefits they bring to the table, making them a viable solution for various business sizes.

Similarly, organisations already running efficiently with existing systems or maintaining an on-premises data centre may not see sufficient benefits to justify the investment required to transition to a new solution or a hybrid cloud approach. However, exploring the integration of a private cloud software layer into your existing infrastructure can unlock new possibilities for efficiency and scalability.

In contrast, cloud computing, whether through a hybrid cloud, private cloud services, or the utilisation of public cloud resources, offers a pathway to rapid and cost-effective scalability. Smaller enterprises with limited resources or budgets, especially when considering long-term backup and storage solutions, can particularly benefit from this scalability.

These are just a few of the hybrid cloud benefits associated with cloud computing solutions, and there are many more ways in which they can be customised to meet your organisation's specific requirements. Whether you're considering a private cloud environment, partnering with a public cloud provider, or exploring the potential of a unified hybrid cloud strategy, understanding your options and aligning them with your business strategy is essential for fully harnessing the advantages of hybrid cloud services in the context of digital transformation.

If the challenges described above resonate with your experiences at your organisation, it may be time to consider a hybrid cloud solution.

Download Canon Business Services' Cloud Power Guide to learn more, or schedule a chat to receive a complimentary Strategic IT review.

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