Blogs
Jason Smith
Chief User Experience Officer

13 Benefits of Cloud Computing and FAQs to Get You Started

Apr 26, 2018

By: Jason Smith

Adopting cloud architecture still sounds like a futuristic move for some. In fact, in the UK, 54 percent of enterprises keep everything on-premise, without a cloud-based solution in sight.

But as we move deeper into the IoT-era, is the cloud becoming a necessity rather than a luxury?

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing, also known as cloud architecture, covers a broad range of cloud-based models — many of which marketers and developers will be accustomed to.

  • SaaS: Software as a Service
  • PaaS: Platform as a Service
  • IaaS: Infrastructure as a Service

dotCMS clients for example, enjoy cloud architecture in the form of our Content as Infrastructure approach, which can be categorized as a PaaS solution. Moreover, many of our clients enjoy a hybrid cloud computing approach, which combines the benefits of cloud computing and on-premise deployment.

For example, a brand using Amazon Web Services (AWS) — which many would class as a PaaS solution — are employing cloud architecture. In fact, most startups using a web hosting company to launch their website and app are also enjoying the benefits of cloud architecture.

So, what benefits does the cloud bring compared to hosting data and software on-premise?

The Benefits of Cloud Architecture

1. Speed

Contemporary cloud computing solutions alleviate latency issues and increase speed across the board, even as time goes on and even if data processing requirements increase. On the flip side, on-premise servers will eventually need to be physically upgraded, as they will become progressively overwhelmed with the increasing amount of data being processed.

TELUS, a dotCMS customer, reported that prior to moving to dotCMS Cloud, it would normally take between 3 to 10 minutes to open content for editing and further 3 to 10 minutes to publish the content. Today, it takes them less than 30 seconds to log in and open content. And publishing is now measured in seconds.

2. Greater Accessibility

Cloud architecture opens more avenues for employees to access data and digital tools. Cloud-based software is accessible through most browsers and mobile devices, boasting responsive design to boot. Furthermore, employees would be cut off from their tools far less, as cloud-based software doesn’t need to be restricted for updates or patches, and up-time is dependably high.

3. Lower Costs, Greater Freedom for Developers

Implementing a cloud-based architecture relieves significant workload from an organization's IT teams. Traditionally, on-premise systems relied on servers, data centers, and a team of developers on hand to manage and maintain the system — which is a costly endeavor. Cloud architecture can reduce IT operating costs while freeing up IT teams to innovate rather than fix bugs and deal with server issues.

4. Scalability and Flexibility

Cloud-based computing is ideal for brands that have a growing or fluctuating bandwidth demands. It allows brands to easily scale up their cloud capacity by simply changing their usage plan. Likewise, if a brand wants to scale down, then the brand’s cloud-based provider can accommodate this as well.

The level of flexibility provided by a cloud-based system can give businesses a competitive advantage. So it comes as no surprise to see IT directors and CIOs ranking ‘operational agility’ as a top driver for cloud adoption, as according to Gartner study.

5. IoT Ready

When combined with headless content management, cloud-based architecture enables brands to embrace the IoT era more rapidly, and at a lower cost. IoTs like smartphones and tablets. This is crucial as practically everyone has access to smartphone devices. By embracing the cloud, brands can interact with their consumers or internal staff on any platform, as and when required. And be able to deliver a more personalized experience.

6. Better Disaster Recovery and Security

It’s a no-brainer for businesses of all sizes to invest in a robust, comprehensive disaster recovery program. But for small businesses and start-ups, that lack of initial capital funding and expertise, investing in a recovery system is more of a distant dream. Thankfully, cloud architecture is helping these smaller organizations to buck that trend.

A report by Aberdeen Group shows that small businesses are twice as likely to implement a cloud-based backup and recovery solution. The same study also noted that these cloud-based systems can save time and helps brands avoid large upfront investments in servers to hold backup data.

Finally, cloud-architecture limits the risk when hardware gets lost or stolen inside or outside the office. With the data being stored in the cloud instead of on the hardware, brands can access their data and restrict access where needed, no matter what happens to their machines.

7. Automatic Updates and Vendor Support

Conventional architecture required a significant amount of time and internal resources to manage, maintain and keep the system up-to-date. Deploying updates requires systems to go under downtime and become unavailable.

Whereas, with cloud computing, the servers are off-premise and out of your hair. Cloud providers can take the strain of rolling out mandatory software and security updates. Meaning, brands don’t have to waste their time in maintaining the system. Leaving them free to focus on things that matter, like growing their business.

8. Tiny Upfront Costs

Cloud-based architecture effectively removes the cost of expensive hardware and installation from the equation. Most cloud-based providers offer an affordable subscription-based model that is fairly straightforward to set up and manage.

9. Multi-site Management

One of dotCMS’s clients, TELUS, took advantage of dotCMS as a headless CMS to serve 400+ retail outlets while maintaining a consistent brand message. Furthermore, dotCMS is a multi-tenant CMS, which means all the sites and experiences that are operating on a single dotCMS instance are sharing the same database, content and resources, making it a cost-effective solution for the telecommunications giant.

10. Encourages Remote Working

According to a study conducted by Stanford, employees who work from home are 13 percent more productive than those who work in an office environment. Cloud computing allows staff to work from anywhere in the world, freeing them for their offices.

Another study reported 42 percent of workers would be happy to take an average pay cut of 6 percent of their salary to be able to telecommute. Thus, with cloud-architecture, brands can actually remodel their business to cut costs in other areas of the organization

11. Increases Collaboration

With teams being able to work remotely through cloud computing solutions, teams can access, edit, download, upload, and share content at any time. That means colleagues can work together on the same content while being on opposite sides of the globe.  

12. Sustainability

Going green is now more important than ever, and with cloud computing, your organization can reduce its carbon footprint.

Cloud computing does not require you to invest in energy-intensive physical servers, which can become a costly affair for both the company wallet, and the earth’s environment.

By taking advantage of cloud computing services, you’re reducing paper waste and relying on virtual services instead of hardware. Plus, since cloud computing promotes remote working, you can potentially reduce emissions associated with your employee’s daily commute.

13. The Cloud is Reliable, and Accessible

Google’s compute engine SLA explicitly states that they provide a 99.99 percent monthly uptime. If Google fails to deliver this, then customers can receive Financial Credits.

For employees who may have forgotten a file or flash drive at work, it is good to know that they can readily access a cloud-based drive, like Google Drive, and download the files without worrying about downtime, disorganization, or accidental deletion.

Cloud Computing FAQs

While switching to the cloud represents a significant change for many organizations, many brands will have some questions. Below, we share commonly asked questions about cloud computing.

1. When Did Cloud Computing Start? The term cloud computing pre-dates back to 1996 when a small group of technology executives at Compaq Computers were looking at moving business software applications to the World Wide Web to develop “cloud computing-enabled applications”.

In 2006, Cloud Computing became more mainstream. Big name brands like Google and Amazon were using the term to describe the new paradigm where people were accessing software applications through the web.
2. How Can I Know If Cloud is Right For My Business? There are a number of reasons, as described by the above benefits, for switching to the cloud. But before making the move, brands must set aside some time to evaluate whether the cloud is right for your business, both strategically and at an operational level.
You need to ask key questions such as does your IT cost impact the growth of your business? And how important is scalability and flexibility for your business?
3. What Are the Three Cloud Computing Delivery Models? There are three main cloud computing delivery models, based on the official Cloud Computing definition provided by NIST:
  • Software as a Service (SaaS): This cloud computing delivery model delivers software through a client interface such as a web browser. Maintenance and updates are all looked after by the vendor. Chances are, you use a SaaS-based product on a daily basis. Google’s Gmail is a widely used SaaS product. With SaaS, however, the consumer does not have access or control of the underlying cloud infrastructure, including OS, storage and network. They also have limited application configuration settings.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): With PaaS, users can deploy a cloud infrastructure that is either custom-made or via acquired applications developed using programming languages, services, libraries, and tools that are supported by the vendor. The user does not have control over the underlying infrastructure the vendor provides. This includes the OS, networks, servers and storage.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): IaaS allows the users to provision the infrastructure such as processing power, storage, network and resources to their requirements. This even includes the OS. However, the user does not have full control of the underlying cloud infrastructure.
4. What Cloud Computing Model Has The Highest Level of Control? Out of the above cloud computing models, IaaS provides the highest level of customization and management. IaaS allows you to develop and configure a virtual network based on the storage capacity, OS, processing power and resources that you have set for running your applications. What's more, IaaS provides a greater degree of cloud elasticity, enabling you to increase or decrease your provisions to meet your requirements.
5. How Do I Prepare to Move to The Cloud? Transitioning to the cloud is fairly straightforward. In most cases, the cloud service provider can handle the transition. One consideration that you will need to look into is your network bandwidth. Since cloud computing relies on internet connectivity, you have to upgrade your bandwidth to obtain the speed advantages that cloud computing provides.
Another area that you need to consider is to choose what workloads you would like to shift to the cloud. With the MarTech landscape becoming increasingly diverse, there are a host of application-based workloads like marketing automation and CRM that you can move to the cloud. Take some time to explore these options before moving ahead.
6. Do I Need to Hire More IT Professionals For the Transition? Technically, you don’t have to hire additional IT staff when transitioning to the cloud. One of the main advantages of working with a cloud service provider is that they handle most of the work. But it is helpful to have some IT expertise to hand to oversee the transition to ensure it goes smoothly.
7. Are There Any Disadvantages of Cloud Computing? While cloud computing has many advantages as we have highlighted in this article, the one major disadvantage to be mindful of is partnering with a cloud provider that provides a low-quality service or poor usability.
For example in the headless CMS space, partnering with a pure headless solution has many advantages. There’s greater flexibility in content distribution and more freedom to innovate. But without the frontend editor that you would normally get in a traditional CMS, it leaves marketers out in the cold, and they end up becoming over-reliant on IT. If brands choose to partner with a hybrid CMS, like dotCMS, they can experience the best of both worlds. They get the advantages of a headless CMS and it empowers marketers thanks to its user-friendly interface.
dotCMS 5.1 further empowers marketers thanks to Edit Mode Anywhere. Find out more about Edit Mode Anywhere on our recent webinar.
8. What is dotCMS Cloud? dotCMS Cloud is the evolution of dotCMS as a Service in the cloud. It is best classified as a Platform as a Service (PaaS) and runs on the Amazon AWS infrastructure. dotCMS Cloud is NOT a hosting service, but the dotCMS Enterprise Edition on the PaaS platform.
9. What’s PaaS actually? PaaS stands for Platform as a Service. It’s a type of cloud offering that means that a vendor manages the majority of an IT stack for a customer in the cloud - basically everything apart from an application itself. In a generalized PaaS environment, customers could run a number of supported applications - in the case of dotCMS, it’s ‘only’ dotCMS for now. The picture below differentiates different cloud operating models, namely IaaS, PaaS and SaaS.
dotCMS Cloud is in so far differentiating because it takes away maintenance burden from our customers, but leaves them in the driving seat to own their digital destiny. Sounds dramatic? You know, it actually is.
10. Does onDemand fit into the strategy of security-conscious verticals like FinServ, Pharma, Healthcare etc? Yes, dotCMS Cloud would be a great first step for moving customer facing communication platforms into the cloud and leverage cloud benefits. Sensitive data would naturally be kept under control of the organization, possibly onPremise - interoperability with dotCMS Cloud would be facilitated through secured API communication.
dotCMS Cloud can be presented as a safe and easy first step towards a cloud architecture that many organizations know they need to move towards, even if they're not yet sure of how to get there. By moving individual pieces of a much more complex architecture to the cloud, IDOs and partners can gain experience and understanding of cloud impact whilst retaining onPremise processes and structures for more sensitive pieces of their infrastructure puzzle.

Cloud Computing Terminology Glossary

But with the IDC predicting that 67% of enterprises will be running their entire IT infrastructure on cloud-based solutions, it is fair for me to say that cloud-based technologies are no longer emerging technologies, they’re now the default choice. To help you familiarize with all the technicality of cloud computing, we’ve compiled a list of the essential cloud computing terminologies.

The Cloud A metaphorical term to describe the internet as we know it, or, in a B2B environment, ‘The Cloud’ may refer to the cloud computing service in question (Amazon AWS or Google Drive, for instance).
Amazon Web Services (AWS) AWS is Amazon’s suite of public cloud services, that includes EC2, S3, RDS, SQS and VPC. AWS operates from numerous locations in North and South America, Asia, Europe, and Australia.
Linux A Unix-based open-source operating system that is prominently used in cloud computing.
Cloud-Oriented Architecture or COA A term, coined by AWS’s Jeff Barr, used to describe a cloud-based architecture where an application serves other applications in a cloud environment. In this type of architecture, both IT infrastructure and software applications are optimized for use in a cloud computing environment.
Cloud Migration The process of transferring a company’s data, applications and services stored an on-premise firewall-protected server to the cloud, where the information can be accessed on an on-demand basis.
Server Requests A request made by a client using a web application on a browser or touchpoint to a server to retrieve information or execute a function.
SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) There are four primary cloud computing types, and yet more are emerging. There’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) for web-based applications, infrastructure-as-a-service (SaaS) for cloud-based access to computing power and storage, platform-as-a-service (PaaS) which provide developers the tools and features to create and host web applications, and Content-as-a-service for centralized delivery of content.
Cloud Storage A service that lets you save your data, files and folders on the Internet via an offsite data center or storage facility that is managed and maintained by a third-party.
Cluster A cluster is referred to a group of either services, containers, or computers that are linked together and function as if they are a single unit. Clusters provide high availability and/or load balancing.
Container A container is a standard unit of software which packages up both code and its dependencies to run the application quickly and independently in any computing environment. dotCMS lets you containerize your content by content type and template. You can package these content containers with different functions.
Virtual Machine (VM) A virtual machine, or VM, is a file, that is normally called an image, that acts like an actual computer. It achieves this by virtualizing the hardware to save server space. Infrastructure-as-a-Service is usually provided as a VM image which can be started and stopped as and when required.
Cloud Servers Virtualized servers that are running either Windows or Linux operating systems. These servers are instantiated via API or web interface. Cloud Servers act in the same way as physical servers and can be managed by an administrator or root level - this is dependent on the cloud hosting provider and server type.
APIs An Application Program Interface, or API, refers to how software applications or computer processes communicate with each other, often known as API calls. The definition of the term can vary upon its usage. It can refer to a single call to retrieve information or it can be a set of call for an application like Google Maps. In cloud environments, this is occasionally referred to as Web API.
Content-as-a-Service (CaaS) A model where the provider delivers content on-demand. The content is stored centrally in the cloud, and it is delivered to various channels, devices and touchpoints. dotCMS provides CaaS via RESTful API.
Content Delivery Network (CDN) A type of infrastructure that consists of multiple computers each containing copies of data that are located in different places on the network. This enables clients to access the copy closest to them.
DevOps The software development practice of combining both development and operation teams to allow for continuous delivery of value to the customer. The practice enables faster software release and efficient continuous improvements.
Docker An open source software that automatically initiates the deployment and runtime of applications inside containers.
Elastic Computing Elastic computing provides the capability to provision and deprovision both computing and storage resources to coincide with the demands of peak usage, without having to worry about capacity planning around uneven usage patterns.
Hybrid Cloud A cloud solution which combines both public and private clouds together to allow data and applications to be shared on both cloud platforms. Hybrid cloud provides businesses with a greater degree of flexibility to scale up or down, and also offers more options for deployment. dotCMS is a hybrid solution that can integrate with both cloud-based and on-premise infrastructures.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) Also known as hardware-as-a-service (HaaS), IaaS delivers a virtualized computer environment over the Internet. The infrastructure can include servers, software and network equipment.
Middleware A type of software that lies between the operating system and application that is running on it. Middleware enables data management and communication for distributed applications, including cloud-based applications. Examples of middleware include content management systems, web servers and application servers.
Multi-tenant Multi-tenant is a term used to describe multiple sites utilizing the same public cloud.
Multitenancy The ability to run multiple clients that all share the same resources (applications or services) running on the same physical hardware.
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) A cloud-based development platform that is delivered as a service over the Internet. An example of PaaS is Microsoft Azure.
Private Cloud A cloud-based service that is delivered via a private internal network to select users. Private clouds are not available to the general public.
Public Cloud A cloud-based service that is available to the general public, either as a freemium product or as a paid monthly subscription.
Serverless Computing A cloud computing model where the provider manages the server and provisions. Serverless computing enables developers to focus their time on building their applications, and less on managing the infrastructure.
Cloud Vendor Lock-in Vendor lock-in occurs when there is an over-dependence on a cloud vendor and there is little flexibility to migrate to or integrate with other vendors due to the absence of support for APIs, standardized protocols, data structures and service models. With best of breeds, you avoid vendor lock-in thanks to its ability to integrate with multiple vendors.
Vertical Cloud A cloud computing environment that has been optimized to meet the needs and compliance of specialized industries like healthcare, financial services and government operations.
Private Cloud A private cloud that operates within a public or shared cloud. For example, Amazon VPC allows Amazon EC2 to integrate with a legacy infrastructure on an IPsec VPN.

Embrace Cloud Computing with dotCMS

Cloud-based architecture provides a number of benefits that enables brands to gain a competitive advantage whilst improving productivity, reducing costs and being accessible via the latest IoTs.

So, for ambitious brands looking to thrive in the post-IoT era, it’s time to leave on-premise hosting behind, and head for the clouds.

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​dotCMS Cloud: Why Cloud - and Why Now?

Most brands have already unknowingly made the switch from on-premise to cloud. Meanwhile, there’s a whole bunch of companies who are still keeping all their data and servers on a physical server somewhere in the basement. Embracing the cloud is extremely crucial for brands, especially in the IoT-era. And like it or not, cloud computing is here to stay.

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