Cloud or Managed Service : What is the difference?


Firstly, cloud computing is not managed hosting. They are two completely different service layers. One refers to a compute resource ie RAM, Chip set and a host, the other to a management resource

The term cloud computing refers to the actual computing layer at a resource level. Cloud computing is generically defined as an elastic and redundant computing resource usually in a multi-tenant environment. Cloud computing and Virtulisation are both very closely related

Managed hosting refers to the managed service layer that sits on top of the computing resource layer. This management layer is generally made up of two and sometimes 3 elements:

  1. Hardware & Network management
  2. OS management including basic service management i.e. Windows, Apache, IIS etc
  3. Application management i.e MS SQL, MS Exchange, MS Dynamics etc

Then there is an additional segment to the term ‘managed hosting’ being ‘complex managed hosting’ Complex managed hosting usually refers to more complex environments that may involve application management, v-lans, load balancing, complex SAN in our case 3PAR configurations and the configurations/management of these in addition to the regular inclusions of managed hosting. Complex managed hosting is typically referring to multiple server (per project) environments rather than single server environments

If you look at Amazon Web Services (AWS) as a good example of cloud computing, they do not provide any Layer 7 management services as standard inclusions. They provide simple compute instance and that’s pretty much it. You need to perform all your own systems administration including OS, services, applications etc.

C24 is a traditionally, managed service providers (MSP) that provides the management layer on top of dedicated servers and virtulisation layers. The recent explosion of ‘cloud computing’ or cloud instances has now seen these MSP’s offer a management layer on top of ‘cloud instances’.

While people require a compute resource they will also require a management resource. Some may perform the management in-house, while others may decide to outsource the management. Most MSP’s provide both the cloud compute layer and management as a combined service.

To put cloud computing into a really simple model, it essentially takes the focus off the physical hardware layer and places the focus on a computing as a resource. Virtulisation works pretty much the same except you still have a host node. The underlying technology that most cloud computing platforms reside on is no different to traditional virtulisation without the focus on the hardware resource. Many cloud compute platforms still use as an example Citrix Xen, VMWare or Parallels as the platform on which to provide their instances, yet the instances are spread over a number of clustered hardware nodes. Cloud computing and Virtulisation still deal with the deployment of instances or virtual machines as a compute resource with zero focus on the hardware.

Many people incorrectly define cloud computing and virtulisation. They are both very similar yet different enough to deserve different definitions. Additionally many refer to items such as SaaS as cloud computing. SaaS (Software As A Service) as an example may or not be delivered via a cloud computing model. A service provider may deliver SaaS via a dedicated hardware resource which would not qualify as a cloud computing service.

C24 is a complex managed service provider as we do the whole piece from design, implementation, network installation, full system monitoring that includes the hardware, software and comms stack and delivers applications at speed globally. We truly are a specialist provider.

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