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What is a cloud-based system?

Get an overview of what a cloud-based system is and what would work best in your enterprise.

We want to change our IT system from a server-based system to a cloud-based system. We have heard a lot about virtual server and virtual desktop. We also would like to start using Microsoft Office 365. How do these systems work and how can we link them together for a good solution?

A brief overview of a cloud-based system:

Virtual servers or instances: These replace physical servers where you may host things, such as your website or business applications.

Virtual desktop: This replaces the physical desktop, although you still need at least a simple desktop to run "remote desktop" into it. The idea is that you can have a virtual desktop for each employee and all the software stays on your cloud-based virtual network, so applications can all be loaded on the virtual desktop instead of the physical desktop that the user is touching. This also means physical desktops don't need to be as powerful, since you can have a very powerful virtual desktop in the cloud and a simple physical desktop that’s just powerful enough to connect to the virtual desktop.

Microsoft Office 365 or SaaS offerings: Software as a service (SaaS) offerings, such as Microsoft Office 365, take the licensing and storage of your documents off of one computer and put it on someone else's systems. This allows you to access Microsoft Word, PowerPoint or other traditional desktop applications from anywhere, including on the go with your mobile and tablet devices. This means if you're working on a document while at work, you can continue to work on it on the train to the client, where you present it on their systems. Therefore, you don't have to worry about managing the software or installing it on your servers; you can rely on the experts to run it for you.

Virtual private cloud (VPC): This is offered by Amazon Web Services, which helps you bring back traditional, local network controls to your virtual network in the cloud. You can set up things, such as firewall rules, private (internal) networks and access policies. It allows you to set up your virtual servers so that only users logged into one of your virtual desktops can access them, or, perhaps, one application is only available to your virtual desktops via the internal network, but others are accessible to outside servers as well.

My suggestion would be to figure out what you want to migrate first, and start with VPC. With VPC you can also set up virtual network connections to your existing network to help you in your transition to the cloud.

Next Steps

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This was last published in September 2015

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