I am often asked for more information on what Cloud Computing is, including the distinction between “Public Cloud” and “Private Cloud.” I want to address these questions in this blog post and help you get started. We’ll begin with a brief set of definitions and some places to find more information; however, an excellent place where you can always learn more about Cloud Computing is the Microsoft Virtual Academy.
Public Cloud computing means that the infrastructure to run and manage the applications users are taking advantage of is run by someone other than yourself. In other words, you do not buy the hardware or software to run your email or other services being used in your organization – that is done by someone else. Users simply connect to these services from their computers and you pay a monthly subscription fee for each user that is taking advantage of the service. Examples of Public Cloud services include Office 365, Windows Intune, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, and Hotmail.
Private Cloud computing generally means that the hardware and software to run services used by your organization is run on your premises, with the ability for business groups to self-provision the services they need based on rules established by the IT department. Generally, Private Cloud implementations today are found in larger organizations, but they are also viable for small- and medium-sized businesses since they generally allow an automation of services and reduction in IT workloads when properly implemented. Having the right management tools, like System Center 2012, to implement and operate Private Cloud is important in order to be successful.
So – how do you get started? The first step is to determine what makes the most sense to your organization. The nice thing is that you do not need to pick Public or Private Cloud – you can use elements of both where it makes sense for your business – the choice is yours. When you are ready to try and purchase Public Cloud technologies, the Microsoft Volume Licensing web site is a good place to find links to each of the online services. In particular, if you are interested in a trial for each service, you can visit the following pages: Office 365, CRM Online, Windows Intune, and Windows Azure.
For Private Cloud technologies, start with some of the courses on Microsoft Virtual Academy and then download and install the Microsoft Private Cloud technologies including Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V and System Center 2012 in your own environment and take it for a spin. Also, keep up-to-date with the Canadian IT Pro blog to learn about events Microsoft is delivering such as the IT Virtualization Boot Camps and more to get you started with these technologies hands on.
Cloud Computing Resources:
- Microsoft Server and Cloud Computing site – information on Microsoft's overall cloud strategy and products.
- Microsoft Virtual Academy – for free online training to help improve your IT skillset.
- Office 365 Trial/Info page – get more information or try it out for yourself.
- Office 365 Videos – see how businesses like yours have used Office 365 to transition to the cloud.
- Windows Intune Trial/Info – get more information or try it out for yourself.
- Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online page – information on trying and licensing Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.