Industry Insights from Our Experts

What is the Cloud?

Filed under Cloud Practice, Hardware, Managed Services

What is the Cloud?

At the most basic level, the Cloud is a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet and used to store, manage, and process data in place of local servers or personal computers.

White Paper - What is the Cloud_rev2

What are Cloud Services?

Cloud services are usually broken up into 3 parts:

  1. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), where a business subscribes to an application it accesses over the Internet. Replaces traditional on-device software. (Think Microsoft Office365, Google Apps, Salesforce.com, Citrix GoToMeeting and Cisco WebEx)
  2. Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), where a business can create its own custom applications for use by all in the company. Public PaaS is delivered by a services provider for building applications. Examples include Microsoft Azure, Salesforce Heroku, AWS Elastic Beanstalk and Engine Yard.
  3. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), where players like Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Cisco Metapod, Google Compute Engine (GCE) provide a backbone that can be “rented out” by other companies. (For example, Netflix provides services to you because it’s a customer of the cloud-services at Amazon.)

Of all the companies mentioned above that offer cloud services we feel that Microsoft with its Azure Cloud provides one of the most stable cloud networks on the market with a vast number of options. Not only that but Microsoft Azure is also one of the most secure cloud systems worldwide and has achieved compliance with many of the highest levels of security required by various government institutions and businesses (e.g. US Dept of Defense, US Government, FDA 21 CFR Part 11, HIPAA, PCI, etc.).

Below are a few concerns most businesses and IT departments have when it comes to Cloud Services and why Microsoft Azure is a leader in the Cloud Services market:

  • Price – Microsoft meets or beats Amazon AWS and Google when it comes to cloud service costs.
  • Security – Microsoft leads the industry in its commitment to the protection and privacy of your data and services. It was the first cloud provider to adopt the new international standard for cloud privacy (ISO 27018).
  • Stability – Both Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS provide 99.5% SLA (Uptime).
  • Features – Microsoft provides important cloud services like Disaster Recovery, Media Streaming and many other Cloud Services that competitors like Amazon AWS don’t offer.
  • Ease of Use – Unlike with Amazon AWS, there’s no steep learning curve with Azure: You’ll be productive your first day in our cloud. Azure gives you access to the same technologies that millions of businesses trust and use today, including Windows and Linux, virtual machines and containers, and Active Directory.

Why should my business consider using Cloud Services?

Cost Saving

Example 1 – Exchange Mail

If you’re a small to medium sized business running an on-premise application like Microsoft Exchange it can be very expensive and here are a few reasons why:

  • You need physical servers that cost between $6000-$8000 each that have to be replaced every 4 or 5 years.
  • Local servers consume power which is a drain on your business operating costs in monthly utility bills.
  • Your on-premise Exchange server has to be maintained, patched and monitored 24/7/365 by highly skilled IT experts. IT staff capable of maintaining Exchange cost around 75K-80K per year.
  • You also need to purchase Microsoft licenses (For example Exchange 2016 Standard Edition costs around $1000 and the Exchange Standard CALs cost around $119 each so if you have 20 staff that’s $2380 for a total of $3380 not including your server hardware).

Here is the big cost saving – You can get Exchange Online for free if you purchase Office365 Premium Licenses for all your staff for around $15 CDN per user per month you get the following:

Fully installed Office 2016 licenses for all your workstations and mobile devices, SharePoint (document sharing, check-in and out, and versioning), OneDrive for Business (1TB per user), HD video conferencing (including Skype for Business), Yammer (social networking for corporations) and Online Microsoft Exchange included.

Note: This does not include migration of your on-premise Exchange mailboxes to Exchange Online.  If you are interested send an email to hello@quercussolutions.com and we can give you a quote.

Example 2 – Testing

Do you need a development or test server to test website changes or database changes prior to release?  Do you need to do DRP testing once or twice a year?

If you said YES to to any of these questions above why buy more physical servers, just build a virtual server in the Azure cloud and do your testing in the Cloud for short periods.

Use an Azure virtual server for a day, a week or a month then turn it off.  Using the Azure Pricing calculator the estimate for a virtual server with 50 GB of disk space will cost you all of $16 for 1 week (7 days=168 hours). The average server with these specifications would cost around $1000, it consumes power and creates heat, takes up space in your office and eventually you’ll have to decommission it and replace it with a new server.


Scalable – Is your IT team tired of replacing expensive on-premise servers when they get old and out of warranty or not fast enough. Are they tired of adding more disk space when servers get full?  Then there will be downtime to your business and employees when these important changes have to be made.

With Microsoft Azure cloud services (IaaS) you can build virtual servers within minutes and size them to your requirements then down the road if you find you need more CPU horsepower or disk space these virtual servers can be reconfigured with more CPUs (also referred to as Cores) or more disk space within minutes.


Disaster Proofing Your Business – Backup your company data to the Cloud easily with Azure Backup. It literally takes minutes to set up on a desktop or server.

What happens if all your servers go down or you have a major site disaster? How long would it take to get everything back running days or weeks? Have your on-premise servers replicated in the Cloud and you could be back up and running in hours or minutes or consider moving your corporate files to SharePoint Online and now you have file storage system that is offsite (local site disaster proof), secure and comes with an 99.5% SLA (Uptime).



If you didn’t know what the Cloud is hopefully this blog has been helpful to you.

If you are interested in the Cloud and want to how the benefits of moving to the Cloud for your business by all means let us know at hello@quercussolutions.com and we will be happy to discuss your IT needs. Keep in mind Quercus Solutions has seasoned IT Infrastructure professionals with years of experience with IT Infrastructure and the creation of new Cloud services and the migration of on-premise systems to the Cloud.

Copyright 2017 by Quercus Solutions