Cloud servers are widely adopted by many companies and organizations due to their cost-effectiveness and convenience. However, there are unique advantages to physical servers that may not be present in cloud servers, and the comparison between the two is not always straightforward.
When choosing a server, it's crucial to understand the characteristics of both physical and cloud servers.
This article explains the merits and demerits of migrating to cloud servers. It is designed to be easily understandable even for those who are not engineers, so please read it till the end!
What is a “cloud”?
"Cloud" refers to the concept of being able to use IT services such as servers and storage applications via the Internet.
Traditionally, in order to use services, it was necessary to install software or prepare hardware for server operation, and there were limitations on where they could be used.
However, with the advent of the cloud, as long as you have access to the Internet, you can use services regardless of location.
Services provided by the cloud
Clouds can be broadly categorized into three types depending on the services provided by cloud providers: SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS.
● SaaS (Software as a Service)
It is a service that provides software or application functionality over the Internet. Unlike traditional methods where software installation is required before using it, the cloud allows you to use services without the hassle of installation.
There are many types of such services, with notable examples including Gmail provided by Google, and Chatwork, a chat tool.
● PaaS (Platform as a Service)
It is a service that provides a platform for developing applications over the Internet. Middleware and databases are also provided, so there is no need for infrastructure setup or maintenance, allowing users to focus solely on development.
Representative PaaS service examples include Amazon Web Services (AWS) Elastic Beanstalk, Microsoft Azure's App Service, and Google Cloud's App Engine.
● IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)
It is a service that provides infrastructure such as servers, networks, and operating systems over the Internet to operate platforms. With IaaS, you can access virtual servers provided and freely build platforms and develop applications on top of that infrastructure.
Representative IaaS products include Amazon EC2 on AWS, Virtual Machines on Microsoft Azure, and Compute Engine on Google Cloud, which are infrastructure-centric services.
What is a cloud server?
A cloud server refers to a virtual server on the Internet, and you can rent a server provided by a business operator via a network. Unlike regular computers, cloud servers are created within physical servers located in remote data centers.
One of the main features of cloud servers is that users do not need to prepare physical servers themselves, making them easy to use and reducing initial costs.
Note: Even though we call them cloud servers, somewhere in the world, there exist physical servers installed in data centers, so it's not entirely accurate to say that “nothing exists at all”.
How cloud servers became popular in Japan
In Japan, it is said that the heightened attention towards cloud technology began with the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. Many companies and organizations suffered losses of on-premises data centers and servers due to the disaster, making business continuity difficult.
To overcome this situation, cloud technology was adopted.
At the time of the disaster, access to local government websites surged for information gathering, causing connectivity issues. Various cloud service providers responded by offering cloud services free of charge not only in the affected areas but also in the greater Tokyo area, contributing significantly to disaster recovery efforts.
Following the disaster, the Japanese government also recognized the importance of cloud technology and encouraged its use for data protection and business continuity during disasters. This event marked the beginning of rapid expansion in cloud adoption in Japan.
The differences from physical servers
Physical servers, as the name suggests, refer to servers that physically exist, and they are often managed and operated by companies and organizations themselves. Compared to cloud servers, physical servers offer the advantage of greater flexibility in customizing hardware and software within the organization's premises.
However, when it comes to increasing capacity, adding another server is necessary, leading to potentially high costs. Additionally, maintaining physical servers requires ongoing maintenance efforts and resources.
On the other hand, with cloud servers, increasing capacity is as simple as modifying the contract, thus allowing for more cost-effective scalability compared to physical servers. Furthermore, since cloud service providers handle server maintenance, it would reduce the burden of maintenance for the businesses.
The benefits of using cloud servers
Cloud servers enable cost savings compared to owning physical servers.
Not only can costs associated with purchasing and maintaining hardware be reduced, but also operational expenses such as space for housing them and energy consumption for running them can be minimized.
Flexibility and scalability
Cloud servers allow for flexible adaptation according to the needs of a growing business, as resources can be expanded as necessary. They provide a highly scalable environment, enabling businesses to respond flexibly to increases in traffic or changes in the business landscape.
Scalability refers to the ability of a system or software to expand. Since the required features and performance of a system vary depending on the situation, scalability refers to the structure's ability to improve and expand its capabilities accordingly.
Security and reliability
Load balancing for data backup and disaster recovery is also one of the advantages of cloud servers. By providing a highly reliable server infrastructure, businesses can minimize risks in their operations.
Simplification and streamlining of management
In cloud servers, the management of hardware and software(partially) can be left to the cloud provider.
Since the cloud provider handles maintenance, upgrades, and the application of security patches for the hardware, management is simplified and streamlined, allowing businesses to focus on more strategic tasks.
Drawbacks of using cloud servers
Running costs for the cloud server itself can be high
While it is said that cloud servers have lower initial costs, the running costs of cloud servers themselves may be higher than those of physical servers.
The reason for this is that while cloud servers do not incur costs for purchasing or maintaining hardware and software, they typically operate on a monthly pay-as-you-go or usage-based billing model. This means that running costs for cloud servers are based on factors such as data usage and uptime, which can vary depending on factors such as user access patterns and fluctuations in business activity. As a result, organizations may find that the actual costs of using cloud servers exceed their initial expectations, especially if data usage ends up being higher than originally anticipated.
If you entrust the construction of cloud servers …
Using cloud servers is essential for the sustained growth and innovation of companies. However, when considering the transition to cloud servers, careful planning and knowledge of cloud server technology are necessary.
If companies or organizations do not possess expertise in cloud servers, it is important to consider options such as outsourcing to appropriate IT vendors. While actively leveraging the latest technology, it is crucial to adopt an approach that aligns with the company's business needs.
At our company, Beyond GTA, we have accumulated technical expertise as a multi-cloud integrator and managed services provider (MSP) since our founding. We have designed, built, and migrated various cloud/server platforms such as AWS, GCP, Azure, and Oracle Cloud.
We offer tailored cloud/server environments optimized to meet the specifications and functionalities of our customers' desired systems and applications. If you are interested in cloud servers, please feel free to contact us.