Written by Irina Belsky
Cloud computing is still a confusing concept for many people, yet it is the future of Information Technology.
What is Cloud Computing?
Defining cloud is difficult because it can encompass a broad or a narrow range of services. Generally speaking cloud computing allows IT assets to be delivered as a service over a network. In other words, rather than purchasing physical servers or software, businesses can sign up to a cloud service and pay on demand or on a pay-as-you-go basis.
“The best analogy for cloud computing is a mobile phone or a phone system,” describes Sheng, “you pay for for the number of calls or resources that you use.” For businesses this means that rather than buying what they need for an office or a data centre they can buy the same resources online.
Cloud computing has different layers and the type of service offered varies.
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): When cloud computing is delivered as IaaS, businesses are able to outsource both hardware and software to the cloud provider that hosts these resources. As a result the client can choose and adjust how much capacity their business requires, paying for a service that’s right for their needs.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS): PaaS are services that provide software which can be used to facilitate the running and management of business applications. As with all cloud, you pay for what you use, which means the choice of applications to be built and hosted on the software platform depends on your business needs.
- Software as a Service (SaaS): SaaS allows you to access business applications through the cloud (online). Examples include Google Docs and Gmail.
OrionVM provides cloud as a IaaS service. “We buy large amounts of hardware and add automation to this hardware to allow companies to get service when they need it, on demand. Everything is done virtually and it’s all automated so you don’t need to plug in any equipment. It just gets done in the background and given to you online” explains Sheng.
Benefits of Cloud
Amongst the many benefits of cloud computing, several competitive advantages stand out.
1. Lower capital cost and cost of ownership: Instead of purchasing their IT infrastructure outright, organisations can pay for cloud infrastructure incrementally, which saves them money in the long term. Cloud services are also highly automated, and expenses are further cut by not needing IT personnel to maintain the software.
2. Efficiency: With cloud, staff are able to work wirelessly. “Rather than tying your staff to the office you can let them access resources anywhere via the internet.” Sheng points out.
3. Flexibility: Cloud allows businesses to adjust what they pay depending on their business situation. With cloud businesses are able to scale up during seasonal peaks and periods of high demand and scale down again when the extra cloud services are no longer required.
“Today you only have 5 employees and you need 5 accounting CRMs, which may cost you around $40. If you scale up to 20 employees, it’s going to cost you the same amount or slightly less depending on your package.”
Choosing Between An Australian And An Overseas Cloud Provider
Sheng says that there is a benefit to using an Australian provider for cloud computing services.
“In terms of accessing your information quicker it is better to have an Australian cloud provider because once you put everything onto the web, response times for every button you click are important.” When using a foreign service provider the internet speed may be slower, affecting the performance time.
Privacy and support are also factors to be considered. “One of the biggest things with using foreign hosted applications as well is that support is quite hard because of the time zone differences.”
Advice On Finding A Service Provider
“Know your provider because you’re trusting them with your business. Always look online to see if anyone’s written anything about the provider you’re considering. I recommend that you call up to see whether or not the team is helpful. I find that if you call people up and they don’t answer the phone through the sales process then they probably won’t pick up to do the support either.”
OrionVM provides infrastructure as a platform (IaaS) service for businesses allowing them to run high performance web applications or databases in the Cloud.
The humble beginnings of the company can be traced back to a dorm room at UTS, where Sheng developed the infrastructure for the company together with Joseph Glanville and Alex Sharp. “We started the company because another project we were working on needed a highly scalable infrastructure platform. Cloud solutions were used to provide it and we decided to develop one ourselves” says Yeo.
In the last two years OrionVM has received funding from serial entrepreneur Stephen Baxter and computing pioneer Gordon Bell, growning from three staff members to eleven and expanding its market share.
The next step? “We’re hoping to have a US facility by the end of this year.”
While cloud computing may be a difficult concept to grasp, it is certainly worth considering, especially for businesses that value cost efficiency and scalability. You can find more tips on how to choose the right cloud service provider here.