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What are cloud providers?
Cloud providers (or, cloud service providers) are companies that—well—provide IT environments like public clouds or managed private clouds that abstract, pool, and share scalable resources across a network.
Cloud providers can also offer components of cloud computing and online cloud services (also known as cloud computing services) like Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service(SaaS). These services bring numerous benefits, including delegated management and more cost-effective business processes.
It works much the same way as providers of utilities and services for your home, like power, water, internet connection, etc. You engage these companies as you need them and pay only for what you use, while the providers manage their specific services and ensure that they’re working effectively.
Also, like service and utility providers for your home, cloud providers manage the services you engage them for without you having to understand exactly how they work. The providers just make sure you have what you need, as you need it, so you don’t have to worry about the back end of things.
There are a handful of well-known, major public cloud providers—such as Alibaba Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, and Microsoft Azure—but there are also hundreds of other cloud and cloud service providers all over the world.
Why use a cloud provider?
Using a cloud provider is a helpful way to access computing services that you would otherwise have to provide on your own, such as:
- Infrastructure: The foundation of every computing environment. This infrastructure could include networks, data management, data storage (known in this context as cloud storage), servers (cloud is the basis for serverless computing), and virtualization.
- Platforms: The tools needed to create and deploy applications. These platforms could include operating systems, middleware, and runtime environments.
- Software: Ready-to-use applications. This software could be custom or standard applications provided by independent service providers.
Public cloud provider vs. managed private cloud
Public cloud providers
Public cloud providers virtualize their own infrastructure, platforms, or applications from hardware they own, and then pool all that into data lakes that they orchestrate with management and automation software before transmitting it across the internet to their end users.
Managed private cloud
Also known as managed cloud service providers, private cloud providers serve customers a private cloud that's deployed, configured, and managed by someone other than the customer. It's a cloud delivery option that helps enterprises with understaffed or underskilled IT teams provide better private cloud services and infrastructure to users.
Certified cloud providers
The Red Hat Certified Cloud and Service Provider program includes hundreds of cloud, system integrator, and managed service providers—along with software developers and hardware manufacturers—you can use to run Red Hat products, host physical and virtual machines, and set up private and public cloud environments.
How do I pick a cloud provider?
The best cloud for your enterprise depends on the size of your business, your current computing platform and IT infrastructure, and what your goals are for the future—among other things.
For example, one of the first things you need to do is evaluate whether using a particular cloud provider aligns with your enterprise strategy.
If it does, the next step is to verify what services you’ll need in your cloud to support this strategy—what cloud computing services will you be able to handle easily within your enterprise, and which would it help you to delegate to a cloud service provider?
Having infrastructure, platform, or software that are managed for you can free your business up to better serve your clients, be more efficient in overall operations, and allow more time to look into improving or expanding your development operations (DevOps).
You can also do more than just secure your own space within your cloud; you can choose providers who build their cloud solutions on Red Hat® Enterprise Linux®.
Using a supported, enterprise open source operating system means that thousands of developers are monitoring millions of lines of code in the Linux kernel—finding flaws and developing fixes before errors become vulnerabilities or leaks. An entire organization verifies those fixes and deploys patches without interrupting your applications.
After verifying your cloud provider starts with Linux, here are some steps to help determine which provider is right for you.
The resources, platforms, and services public cloud providers supply are usually charged by the hour or byte—meaning they can fluctuate based on how much you use.
Major public cloud providers give you data access from nearly anywhere in the world, but regional providers may help you comply with data sovereignty regulations.
There are certain innate risks that come with not owning or managing the systems that house enterprise information, services, and functions.
Many public cloud providers guarantee certain uptimes—like 99.9%. There are also various service-level agreements that dictate change requests and service restoration.
The right public cloud provider should be certified to run operating systems, storage, middleware, and management systems that integrate with your existing systems.
Many public cloud providers have a set of standard support contracts that include validating active software subscriptions, resolving issues, maintaining security, and deploying patches.
Managed private clouds might include more fixed contracts tied to individual contractors or cloud admins, with only minor spikes when enterprise activity increases.
Support staff that’s close to your datacenter means it will be easier for them to maintain the physical infrastructure holding up your cloud.
Hire and partner with trustworthy people and organizations who understand the complexities your unique security risks and compliance requirements.
Managed private cloud providers’ reliability mirrors that of public cloud providers, but it may be tied to the condition of the physical hardware your cloud runs on.
Every contractor’s skill set is unique. Verify that each individual has the training and certification necessary to manage your cloud appropriately.
Depending on your enterprise’s needs, the support could be relegated to simple cloud administration or it can serve the needs of an entire IT department.
How do I become a cloud provider
Becoming a cloud provider is as simple as setting up a cloud and letting someone else use it. There are other constraints to consider—security, routes of access, self-service, and more—but letting someone else use the cloud is the fundamental concept of being a cloud provider.
Becoming a cloud provider can also be more effective when your environments are certified to run the products customers already use in their datacenters. That's the premise of the Red Hat Certified Cloud and Service Provider program.
Why Red Hat?
Because making the decision to add a public cloud is difficult enough. Once you’ve made that decision, you shouldn’t have to worry whether or not the operating system your applications rely on will work as expected once you get there. That’s why we created the Red Hat Certified Cloud and Service Provider program. More than 800 cloud providers will help you get to the public cloud. And you can rest easy knowing that Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Red Hat JBoss Middleware will run as they should, giving you a consistent foundation that’s connected across all environments.
If you want to deploy some type of cloud to improve your business but are worried about moving existing apps, aren't sure if you should take a tiered approach, or don't know how deep shadow IT is embedded across the enterprise, our experienced teams can help you establish a plan.
We help you develop a roadmap to take you from where you are to where you want to be. You get direct support from engineering, support, and product management—a cross-functional approach to make sure people, processes, and technologies are aligned.