Hackernoon logoWorking Remote? Migrate To The Cloud! NOW! by@olena

Working Remote? Migrate To The Cloud! NOW!

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@olenaOlena

In recent years, the increase of remote work is one of the leading trends in the last years in the labor-management. But the labor market remained inert for a long time... until COVID-19 burst into our lives. Because of it, during some last months, many companies worldwide were faced with the necessity of moving their staff to remote working.

IT sector did it faster than others because we have a great resource for it. Indeed, most IT companies, both startups and large corporations kinda SAP, EPAM, or Google, use cloud technology and various apps for remote employees and offices managing.
But many companies from non-IT sectors weren’t ready to switch from on-premise office working to remote home mode. The first and the main issue for them is ‘How to arrange remote working for all our employees quickly, and ensure sensitive business data security?’ The answer is clear – call a cloud provider for help.
The quickest and most convenient way to transfer all working processes from on-premises to a remote office is to migrate the company's infrastructure, including all applications, systems, and data to the provider's cloud.
Let's briefly recall what a cloud is. Cloud computing is a model of providing users network access to a pool of computing resources through an API or browser, from anywhere and any time. When choosing a cloud for creating a remote office, companies should focus on several parameters that are crucial for ensuring the reliability and usability of the cloud infrastructure.
The budget, of course, also plays a role, but renting a cloud by default has a lot of advantages (including and not limited to infrastructure redundancy and resource scalability) compared to maintaining on-premises servers and local data centers.
Therefore, when choosing a provider to whom you trust your business data, pay attention to the characteristics below. They are not obvious but play a critical role in the quality of IaaS services. 

Cloud is not VPS!

The cloud solutions market is full of offers, although, to tell the truth, not
everything is a cloud called a cloud. Sometimes, under the guise of clouds,
small providers offer customers who are not too knowledgeable in technology, ordinary VPS, virtual servers deployed using a hypervisor on a dedicated server. The only similarity between cloud and VPS is virtualization.
The fundamental difference is not even in price (although VPS is one of the cheapest infrastructure solutions). The fact is that the cloud — the right cloud! — has a complex cluster architecture that ensures redundancy and fault tolerance of the infrastructure solution.
The server and network equipment on which the cloud is built must be Enterprise-class, powerful, designed for continuous operation under high loads. The cloud must have duplicated bandwidth connection to global Tier-1 providers or at least (if the provider is not too large) to at least Tier-2 Internet providers.
Meanwhile, low-cost VPS are deployed on dedicated servers, the technical characteristics of which the user usually does not even know. It provides almost unlimited opportunities for wrongdoing, which is sometimes used by dishonest providers. But that's not the point.
Any VPS uses only that piece of computing resources that are allocated to it by the hypervisor from the resources of physical hardware. What does it mean? Firstly, the VPS resource cannot be scaled — it means, if the user needs to increase RAM, he wouldn’t be able to do it on VPS. Besides, all VPSs deployed on the same server can "eat" from each other the resources of the physical server in peak loads.
For example, if on one VPS is hosted e-commerce, and it announced a sale, its traffic would increase drastically. It means that the website needs more performance than its virtual server usually uses. Where to get the missing resource?
Sure, only having taken away from other tenants — there are no other sources. What will happen to other VPS in this case? That's right, due to lack of resources, they will begin to slow down until the complete shutdown.
Therefore, our advice is: when choosing a cloud for your remote office, always be interested in what it consists of, what resource parameters are available, which vendors produced the equipment, whether high availability and redundancy are provided. If the information is not clarified, don’t hesitate to ask a potential provider what actually is offered to you – is it cloud or VPS. Remember: you need a cloud!

Datacenter where the cloud is deployed

It is an interesting point in terms of equipment reliability, cloud service availability, and data security.
In the datacenter of a professional provider, everything is subject to a single goal, to provide the proper conditions for equipment. The worldwide ANSI/TIA-942 standard classifies data centers into 4 categories (Tier) according to the reliability criterion.
The standard includes a whole range of parameters, including the presence of climate control, fire-prevention systems, access control systems, network connections, architectural standards, etc. Datacenters of Tier-III and higher are considered the most reliable for cloud deployment.
Some providers with advanced expertise in infrastructure solutions can deploy a cloud cluster in several availability zones. According to cloud terminology, availability zones are unique, remote from each other physical infrastructures located in the same region.
Each of the available zones is the single full-fledged datacenter equipped with independent systems and services:
  • The power supply system;
  • Air conditioning system;
  • Network infrastructure;
  • Computing resources;
  • Data storages.
In those turn, the availability zones conjunct to the unified cloud infrastructure as single components, those are connected between logically, and at the same time, isolated from each other by physical structure to eliminate the overusing of the equipment.
What does it mean in a cloud context? It means that the fault tolerance, redundancy, and availability of the cloud cluster across several availability zones are improved in order a magnitude.  
You shouldn't think that several availability zones can deliver only heavyweights of the global cloud market kinda AWS or Google. There are many professional infrastructure providers in the world, who offer top-notch infrastructure solutions based on an individual approach. They create custom-tailored solutions to fully satisfy customers' needs and expectations.
For example, German infrastructure brand SIM-Networks announced at the end of the last year its plans about the launch of the second availability zone of SIM-Cloud for each of the customers in the first half of 2020. It means that its flagship SIM-Cloud IaaS will be enhanced to two datacenters in Karlsruhe (Baden-Württemberg, Germany).
The advantages of two availability zones are sufficiently higher reliability and data security of the cloud, and more flexibility in instances creating. E.g., customers will get the opportunity to create redundant and high-available cloud clusters by deploying the one part of instances in the AVZ1 (the first datacenter) and another part – in AVZ2 (the second datacenter). This kind of architectural solution can be realized as:
  • Database cluster with the synchronized data replication between two or more nodes in different availability zones;
  • Terminal server farm;
  • Web applications, and many others.
Our second advice is: choose the provider that built its cloud in certified datacenters of Tier-III and higher. It allows you to get a higher information security level. And if there are several availability zones of the cloud, it means you get more top-quality IaaS services that you rent from the cloud provider for your remote working environment arrangement.

Cloud storage

First, we mean the storage within the cloud IaaS. It should be safe, scalable, and reliable. Excellent, if cloud storage supports apps and systems with different loading levels.
E.g., in SIM-Cloud, within the Ceph-based software-defined storage with hardware-based encryption for the most data protection, there are two types of storage:
  • a cold storage CS1 with triple data replication and cash-tiering. This storage has 750 IOPS and 200 MB/s bandwidth, and is aimed to for storing cold data (documents, archives, other data and apps with low-loads);
  • a high-speed ‘general’ storage GS1 with 10.000
    IOPS and 300 MB/s bandwidth. It is effectively used for high-load apps and
    systems locating.    
Second, some infrastructure providers offer various types of storage – FTP, iSCSI, S3 compatible. The last one is a top-notch cloud service with many benefits, including scalability, instance activation in the cloud dashboard, and without any limitations of the number of uploaded data and their volumes. S3 compatible storage can be used both within cloud IaaS and independently of it. 
Our third recommendation is: the right cloud provider can offer you more options to store your data and ensures reliable information security during data transfer and storing. Is it crucial when you work remotely? Definitely, it is!

Flexibility and customer-focusing

Is flexibility an important characteristic of the cloud? Sure! Speaking about flexibility, we should find it everywhere – in the scalability of cloud resources, in instant activation of services, in pricing, and deferral payments.
When you can reach out to Support of a cloud provider at late-night on Sunday, and your issue is solved quickly and competently, it's about flexibility, too.
If you are a big fan of Dell and would like to get an infrastructure solution (a private cloud) based on Dell hardware – it's about the flexibility of a provider.
A free trial period of a pair of weeks to try a cloud — is about flexibility.
BTW, additional services within a cloud, so-called XaaS, which you can use or not use, – are also about flexibility.
As we pointed above, the right cloud has to be built on a powerful server and network equipment, manufactured by global leading vendors, with at least 2N+1 redundancy on architecture level. CPUs, storage, RAM, communication lines, every smallest detail have to be produced for intensive operation for many years.
It is a cloud axiom. But many providers don't see there an opportunity to build an outstanding and customer-oriented service.
Meanwhile, the more extensive the range of services that a provider can offer, the more satisfied the customers will be. Let us illustrate it with the CPUs example.
Running some business applications and corporate systems (ERP, databases, CRM system, VoIP, so on) need high-performance. Other ones kinda docflow, data archive or a kindergarten website are low-load apps.
It would be great if the provider has configured various instances' types for applications with different loads within the cloud IaaS solution. It is excellent when the customer can choose instances (virtual machines), based on high-speed processors, that matches to deploy big-data analytic tools, or a machine learning, or CRM of a global supermarket retail chain, or instances for typical, medium-loaded applications and projects based
on chips of the worldwide leading vendor. German brand SIM-Networks uses this way, and you can learn more about its IaaS services on the website. 
Professional cloud providers who systematically analyze the behavior of their customers are continually working on the development of solutions that will best meet the needs of customers.
So, our last recommendation is: when you learn cloud offers for quickly arranging of a remote office, you should learn in details the providers’ professional background. A customer-experience reflected on customers’ reviews also can be useful. Ask experts. Pay attention to every point described above, and estimate if the provider complies with them.

A little bit conclusion

Our life never asks us if we are ready to change everything. But sometimes you have to change very quickly.
Striving to keep your business continuity by moving to remote working in the cloud, you need carefully choose the right cloud. The right cloud should:
  • be a cloud, not a VPS
  • be built on Enterprise-class equipment
  • be deployed in a professional Tier-III and higher datacenter
  • have multiple availability zones
  • have a high-tech and secure storage (hardware-based encryption, encrypted data transfer lines, cash-tiering, multiple data replication, etc.)
  • be technologically advanced
  • allow integration with other services
  • be userfriendly, high-performance, high-available, and cost-efficient.
Taking care of finding a cloud provider for organizing remote work of your business efficiently, you should weigh all pros and contras, and choose the provider that will be your reliable partner for a long time.
We hope our recommendations will help you to make the right choice, and quickly arrange your remote office in the cloud.

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