Few things illustrate the fast pace of change in the IT industry better than the enterprise data center. We have gone from big-as-a-house mainframes with slow-as-molasses magnetic tape storage to pizza-box sized servers with crazy fast SSDs, in the span of four decades.
The next evolution — which is already here — does not concern servers smaller than pizza boxes, but rather no boxes at all.
Of course, there still are (and always will be) some PCs somewhere doing all the serving and number crunching, but they are not in the corporate data center anymore, they are in the Cloud.
The Cloud, explained
The Cloud, in case you have been living under a rock for the past few years, refers to processing and storage run by specialized companies on their own networks, that is available for businesses to sign up for and leverage for their own needs.
If instead of running your own mail server on your data center, you use some third party online mail provider like Gmail or Fastmail, then you are already making use of Cloud services.
Nowadays Cloud services are used for all kinds of things traditionally run from the enterprise data center, from corporate portals to full blown public facing applications (for example Apple’s own web services, from the App Store to Apple Music, are run on Microsoft’s Azure cloud).
The obvious benefit of this kind of setup is the same as with outsourcing other aspects of your business (which is exactly what Cloud computing is: outsourcing IT operations).
So, the upside is that you reduce costs, you get to have specialist teams working on your outsourced operations, and you free up your employees so that they can concentrate on what’s actually important to your core business (and if you can move everything to the Cloud, you might not even need any IT staff at all, which is the case with a lot of small businesses).
The downsides of Cloud computing are similar to outsourcing too. You don’t have complete control over your servers: the Cloud operator has. You don’t (in most cases) get to choose the software stack that will be used: the Cloud operator does.
They also get to decide when updates happen and what they contain (which means an update might remove or change functionality that you rely upon).
When does a Private Cloud make sense?
While public Cloud services are fine for most business cases and have been adopted by companies and organizations big and small, they are far from the only option that you’ve got.
There is an IT deployment mode that is between running your own servers and relying on a public Cloud. It is called a Private Cloud, and it gives you the best of both worlds: the ease of mind and expert handling of a remote Cloud service, and the full power and control of the old corporate data center.
With Private Cloud services, you get:
– Dedicated server hardware for your applications
You get to choose the specs that your business needs to function properly, as opposed to abstract CPU units and such, which is often the case with public Cloud vendors. Your servers are not cluttered with othre businesses, but dedicated to you, not much different that those PCs in your datacenter.
– The option to have your Cloud vendor’s expert team to deploy, maintain and backup your servers (managed services)
This can include everything, from installation to updates, backup, and monitoring, freeing up your IT team, and leaving your server’s maintenance to the experts. In the case of an eFront Private Cloud, it’s actually the same expert team that built the software in the first place.
– Control over the software stack from the OS level upwards
This means that you get a say in the OS version and related applications and services that better fit your needs and budget. You also get to decide when new updates will be installed, or even whether to skip them entirely and just continue to use an older, tried and true, release of any software in your Private Cloud stack.
– Improved performance and reduced cost-per-user (more “bang for your buck”), as your servers are not shared with other clients and run closer to the bare “metal”.
– Increased privacy and security — again, since you have a dedicated virtual server, you are less likely to be affected by bugs or security issues giving other Cloud users access to it. Plus, you get to decide the exact security options, firewall configuration, etc., that matches your needs, as opposed to some generic settings decided by the Cloud vendor.
– Last, but not least, moving from physical servers in your data center to private Cloud servers managed by your Cloud vendor means that you get more flexibility to scale your services (as your Cloud vendor can spin up new machines in the order of minutes, and will take care of upgrading RAM, disks, etc.).
eFront’s Private Cloud options
Epignosis, the makers of eFront, have experience with all 3 major hosting modes: the self-hosted software, the public Cloud, and finally, the private Cloud.
Each mode has its own pros and cons and can be great for some use cases, but less so than others. That said, the Private Cloud option is really a “best of both worlds” deployment option. It is especially recommended for medium or larger enterprises and organizations, or really any company that wants to retain full control over its software stack but still reap the benefits of Cloud computing.
With eFront’s Private Cloud solution, you get a dedicated, efficient and secure Cloud-based Learning and Talent Development platform that’s finely tuned to make optimal use of the underlying hardware, combined with direct access at the OS level, which in turn allows you to fully customize your private eFront Cloud.
Scaling to accommodate a larger user base, whether internal in your company or public, is easy too, as eFront’s private Cloud tier is available with various flexible payment and user registration plans, to accomocate current and future needs.
What’s best, your Private Cloud plan comes with free updates, monitoring and backups, and the full support (both behind the scenes and when you explicitly ask for it) of eFront’s excellent support staff.
And to really drive home the point that you are fully in control of your Private Cloud, Epignosis places absolutely no restriction on how deep you can extend, brand or customize your eFront installation to fit your business needs.
You can make your portal truly yours, with custom branding and your own domain name, and you can install any kind of plugin or integration with your existing infrastructure or third party services.
Sitting comfortably between self-hosting and public Cloud services, and combining benefits from both (with none of the downsides, especially when combined with managed services), Private Cloud hosting is an excellent solution for companies and organizations that want the most secure, efficient and flexible software hosting option.
eFront, which comes as both a self-hosted and a Private Cloud solution, offers several affordable Private Cloud tiers that can cover everything from the small, independently owned, business, to the larger Fortune 500 companies (and several of the latter are already using it).
Whether you opt for its Self-Hosting or a Private Cloud option, contact eFront’s sales department today, and take the leading Learning and Talent Development platform for a test drive.