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Cloud Service Providers

With hardware’s limitations, organizations are looking to cloud computing for expanded capabilities. However, choosing the right cloud service provider is important if you hope to maintain operational efficiency and security.

Cloud computing remotely centralizes IT capabilities to keep users connected to the information and device settings they need using any mobile device. Cloud services help supplement the IT experience by allowing seamless mobile integration and accessibility, from storing data to accessing software applications.

However, with a handful of reliable cloud service providers on the market, it can be challenging to determine which cloud service provider is best suited to your organization. This guide explains what enterprises can expect from cloud service providers, what each provider type features, and what characteristics to look out for to find the best cloud service solution for your IT environment.

Contents

What Are Cloud Service Providers?
Why Use a Cloud Computing Service Provider?
Categories of Cloud Computing Service Providers
Standard Services Across Providers
Choosing the Best Cloud Service Provider for Your Business
Make the Most of Cloud Computing with SSH

 

SSH_Article Graphic-What are Cloud Service Providers

What Are Cloud Service Providers?

Cloud service providers are vendors that supply and establish cloud computing IT services. Often contracted on a pay-as-you-go basis, these companies offer a wide variety of packages to manage, transfer, and support applications within a secure and remote virtual database. The three primary models cloud service providers offer are Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), which we will explore in more detail later in this article. Popular examples of cloud service providers include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud, to name a few.

Why Use a Cloud Computing Service Provider?

Without a dependable cloud computing service provider, your organization has to tackle all of its infrastructure, platforms, and software needs on its own. This covers everything from how each device interacts with networks and servers to how operating systems and downloaded applications transport data between wireless devices — all of these activities would have to be manually controlled and monitored.

As one can imagine, this takes considerable time, effort, and expertise; manually managing these activities can result in a human error occurring and compromising the efficiency or security of your environment. But besides taking the guesswork out of IT management, cloud computing service providers bring many benefits (as well as some challenges) to digital landscapes that should be considered.

Advantages of Using a Cloud Service Provider

Unlike traditional IT implementations that require hefty equipment expenses up-front, cloud service providers typically offer subscription plans where customers are charged based on how much of the vendor’s services are used. 

For example, one cloud service many smartphone users are familiar with paying for is additional data storage. Users can elect to pay a few dollars each month for hundreds of gigabytes in cloud storage, allowing them to continue saving pictures, videos, documents, and other files on their phones once their local storage has reached capacity. Similarly, cloud service providers possess a portfolio of products that are paid for over time, meaning you use what you pay for — nothing more and nothing less.

Scalability is another strong advantage of using a cloud service provider. From a household member to a multinational corporation, anyone can purchase, apply, integrate, remove, and stack cloud components depending on fluctuating demands and needs. Scalability also comes in handy as new technologies emerge, helping organizations upgrade their legacy systems as necessary to maintain operability.

In emergencies, such as cases of hardware disruption, cloud service providers make it easier to retrieve data that would otherwise have been corrupted or erased. Thanks to backups and recovery protocols, data is kept safe in the cloud until users can access it from a viable device using a stable internet connection. However, it is worth noting that network outages and internet issues will render such data inaccessible until a Wi-Fi connection can be restored.

Disadvantages of Using a Cloud Service Provider

While cloud service providers only charge consumers for what they use, these expenses can quickly add up if demand unexpectedly booms. For organizations transitioning to a cloud-based IT system, the migration process can be lengthy, particularly if the data being transferred has been collected and managed outside of the cloud for potentially years. As a result, this process can boost service costs further.

Organizations should pay close attention to contractual terms and agreements from cloud service providers or consult legal counsel to ensure that the cost of services and early termination fees are reasonable. Contracts should also be transparent about how cloud computing service providers assist customers in avoiding cybersecurity threats and attacks. Since cloud environments are heavily targeted and vulnerable spaces for malware, bolstering security measures on both sides is essential.

Categories of Cloud Computing Service Providers

Cloud service providers are categorized by what they offer and how they function. As previously mentioned, there are three main cloud models providers focus on based on the type of services needed:

  • IaaS: Infrastructure-as-a-Service providers focus on the IT architectural framework of an organization, supporting processes that traditional stationary devices are responsible for, such as automation, security, networking, and storage in a remote environment.
  • SaaS: Software-as-a-Service providers specialize in business-related operational applications like management and productivity suites, internal databases, and employee interfaces, allowing organizations to stay updated while on the go.
  • PaaS: Platform-as-a-Service providers concentrate on developing and administering clouds — venues where operational software and applications can seamlessly and remotely work together.

However, a majority of cloud computing providers like to offer a combination of all three structures so that consumers can enjoy more flexibility, variety, and value in service. Besides available packages, cloud service providers can also be distinguished by the type of cloud system they have available.

Widely-used providers such as Oracle Cloud and Salesforce are known as public cloud providers. With public cloud providers, all cloud computing services clients request are installed and controlled by these companies. Despite its name, public clouds are not available for anyone to see — only the provider can access the public cloud and, as such, they are responsible for its security and maintenance. Public cloud providers are popular because of their affordability and convenience.

On the other hand, private cloud providers sell solutions that organizations must implement and maintain themselves. This is a more expensive option because it involves constant internal management and a well-established data center, making it suitable for large enterprises that already have the resources for both. While private clouds promise a higher level of security than their public counterpart, they take a significant amount of labor, time, and capital to properly deploy. Nonetheless, private clouds are easily customizable, which businesses can use to align their IT infrastructure with internal management goals.

Hybrid cloud providers reap the benefits of both public and private clouds, with consumers determining who has control over certain services. Many cloud service providers that predominantly work with public clouds offer private cloud functionalities for those wanting more flexibility and control over their data without entirely investing in a full-scale private cloud system.

Standard Services Across Providers

Despite the intricacies that make each cloud computing service provider unique, consumers can expect to find broad network compatibility, stackable solutions, monitored service usage, on-demand capabilities, and consumer control to be standard features across providers. Generally, a cloud service provider should make it easy for consumers to edit, save, access, secure, and organize their operations and data at any time, and at a reasonable price.

The Top Five Cloud Service Providers on the Market

For organizations looking to collaborate with a provider to optimize internal management, these five cloud service providers are worth exploring.

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Launched in 2002, Amazon Web Services has earned over 40 compliance certifications worldwide. Not only is AWS easy to navigate, but it offers solutions for a huge range of industries, from aerospace organizations to retail stores. The AWS website also provides free tools and resources customers can use to budget service costs, learn valuable cloud computing skills, and train employees on cybersecurity measures. For organizations small and large, and for novices and veterans alike, Amazon Web Services is a safe bet for all-around support and reliability.

Microsoft Azure

Artificial intelligence (AI) gives Microsoft Azure a competitive edge among cloud service providers, granting consumers the ability to make the most of the latest technologies. With advanced services that cater to machine learning and AI use cases, Microsoft Azure is built for innovation. There is even a special cloud dedicated to government entities for robust and exclusive cloud security. Microsoft Azure boasts 90 compliance certifications globally, with support extending beyond Windows applications. However, some of the content on Microsoft Azure’s website can be difficult to comprehend for those new to cloud computing.

Google Cloud

Perhaps the most familiar cloud service provider to users around the world, Google Cloud is favored by IT managers and small businesses wanting additional cloud functionality with minimal setup. Google Cloud is also widely used in everyday household use cases, with over 25 free cloud products available. High interoperability and compatibility with existing applications can be expected, as well as a comprehensive set of security and detection services to keep all data and activity confidential, as it should be.

Oracle Cloud

Private cloud and public cloud capabilities merge effortlessly with Oracle Cloud’s all-in-one infrastructure. Oracle encourages customer control, allowing businesses to manage their own security settings, data migration, and on-site data centers via Oracle Cloud’s databases. Oracle Cloud prioritizes a high-end management experience, with the hybrid cloud infrastructure offering a centralized user interface for ease of access, reduced latency, and quick migration. Like Microsoft Azure, Oracle Cloud can be tricky to navigate because of its complex features. However, its built-in automated services grant customers the flexibility of a private cloud with the assistance of a self-running public cloud service.

Salesforce

Developed and deployed in suites, Salesforce’s cloud services center on the business-consumer relationship. Best for juggling customer engagement, internal management, data organization, social connectivity, and marketing analytics in one place, Salesforce’s library of cloud-based databases is also AI-powered to help users optimize their data to meet business goals. Salesforce’s Customer 360 bundles all of its services into one highly integrative and responsive environment, spanning sales and marketing initiatives to IT assistance and external outreach. Salesforce is an unconventional cloud service provider that helps organizations holistically run their operations.

Choosing the Best Cloud Service Provider for Your Business

With many reputable cloud service providers to choose from, it is crucial to reflect on how internal business objectives will benefit from cloud-based solutions. Not every organization will need a complete suite of products, just as not every enterprise can optimally function with just a few services. Finding an organization's ideal cloud service provider requires aligning financial, management, security, and operational goals with what a cloud service provider can offer. 

To start, consider:

  • Pricing Options: Every enterprise has its unique budget, but all of them want to get the most bang for their buck. Most providers have extremely affordable service options, but look out for bundled packages that may reap savings in the long run.
  • Services Provided: Determine how much cloud-based integration is necessary and how user-friendly it needs to be. For instance, a digital marketing agency will most likely require a simple infrastructure like Salesforce, whereas a government entity might lean more towards the extensive services offered by Microsoft Azure.
  • Security Measures: Clouds are vulnerable if left unprotected. Be sure to look into how a cloud service provider keeps data safe, as well as what security features can be accessed and customized by your organization for extra safeguarding.
  • Vendor Assistance: At the end of the day, a cloud service provider should assist an organization, especially when obstacles arise. Be wary of hidden customer support costs and research how a cloud service provider typically handles disruptions on their side.
  • Additional Resources: For those unfamiliar with cloud computing, it may be worth finding a cloud service provider that offers free courses, guides, and toolkits to ensure that cloud solutions are being properly deployed and every feature appropriately employed.

Make the Most of Multi-Cloud Access with SSH

SSH’s PrivX privileged access management solution establishes a secure connection as users interact with their multi-cloud servers. It automatically discovers all cloud targets (Azure, AWS and Google) and keeps them updated for you under a single pane of glass.

Founded on zero-trust architecture and just-in-time access, users obtain temporary authoritative access with the use of ephemeral certificates that expire once a connection is made. This dynamic model leaves no credentials behind to manage or vault nor do users see any secrets during the process. 

As users work alongside their cloud solutions, PrivX monitors and audits all cloud activity while flagging and resolving suspicious behavior for preventative protection. Moreover, PrivX is made for complex, multi-cloud, and stackable implementations for quick syncing and smooth integration. Get in touch with us today to learn how adding PrivX to your cloud infrastructure will bolster the security of your organization’s cloud-based data.