What Cloud is, and What Cloud isn’t

Not every cloud computing set-up is created equal

What Cloud is, and What Cloud isn’t

“Tell me what you want, what you really, really, want… “ - Spice Girls, 1996

Although Posh Spice and crew are not talking about a technology solution in the cloud, I think they were on to something. Many internal IT staff are having more and more cloud-based email conversations. Whether it is about O365 or Gmail, they are discussing a messaging strategy that includes “the Cloud”, yet many do not consider the ancillary support systems that come along with being in “the Cloud.” If they do consider it, they are looking for something that they can’t find.

These required support systems include compliance, records management, eDiscovery, archiving, and mailbox management platforms. And oftentimes the teams that are responsible for implementing these platforms, or at least those that decide which one(s) to implement, think they want “the Cloud”, but end up describing what is really a private, hosted solution.

So, to clear up any confusion, here is what “the Cloud” is, and what it isn’t.

“The Cloud” is a commercially offered large network of servers running (in many, if not all cases) a virtualization platform that can provide “anywhere access”, computing power, storage, and/or specific applications to consumers. “Clouds” are nebulous structures that take the infrastructure and organic growth management off the consumer’s plate and can replace it with a very structured and fully managed “off-site” service such as the already mentioned email platforms, CRM platforms, productivity applications, etc… Every day, there are more services being offered within “The Cloud.” That’s all well and good, but all that functionality comes with the caveat that “The Cloud” isn’t a private network of servers within your organization, and it does not consist of resources dedicated to your organization.

Private, hosted solutions are more expensive than a cloud solution because they consist of dedicated hardware and storage, and have to be custom built for each client. It is a massive array of computing power, RAM and storage that may have logical boundaries, but no true physical boundaries. Your data could be anywhere on the west coast, for example, while your office is on the east coast. For some reason, messaging teams are good with this model for employee email or Gmail, but compliance, eDiscovery, or records managers are less comfy with the idea that the same data in a “compliance” system may be using the same NAS head or even the same array of disks as another customer. While, literally, the same technology may be being leveraged for “the Cloud” provided messaging platform that is used by the hosted platform. For example, a private, hosted solution could leverage Microsoft’s Azure platform with all the same bells and whistles, only it is an internal deployment or a private deployment and O365 certainly leverages Microsoft’s Azure platform.

Here at ZL Technologies, we understand how to leverage on-premise solutions that integrate with the various cloud-based messaging platforms. We also understand and have implemented several private, hosted solutions that integrate with both on-premise messaging solutions, as well as cloud-based platforms. Regardless of where you want to manage or analyze your data, we can help you assess the best fit for your organization and deploy a solution that will meet your requirements.

Currently I am serving in the capacity of Senior Cloud/Hosted Services Architect. I have approaching 20 years of experience in the technology sector with a focus in our ZL Unified Archival product suite. I am a 15 year Veteran of our Army and Army National guard with two deployments to Iraq. My interests include following American politics, reading, and coaching my boys in life and sports.