Cloud hosting refers to the practice of hosting systems, applications, services, and data on remote servers, generically termed ‘the cloud', which are hosted and managed by a cloud service provider (CSP) such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure.
Of all the cloud computing platforms, these are the two main providers with a market share of approximately 33% for AWS and 23% for Azure. As a result, these are also primarily the providers upon which our clients rely, and where we focus our expertise.
Moving to the cloud, or optimising your use of the cloud, can bring enormous benefits to your business.
The best advice on how to do so effectively is, ironically, to get some good advice. An experienced cloud consultant can advise you on which of cloud applications, services and architecture is likely to return the best results based on your parameters (cost, deadline, availability of resources).
It isn't simply a case of finding the right size shoe, but also the right style and colour.
Both AWS and Azure provide comprehensive cloud platforms with a broad range of services and features. DevOps teams such as the ones at The Virtual Forge rely on expertise in both clouds when designing systems to maximise flexibility, scalability, and availability.
The key to optimising cloud hosting is to deeply understand the various service offerings. AWS and Azure have similar but at times very distinct services, which can either behave differently or be targeted at different use-cases. Not to mention that pricing for similar services can vary significantly between cloud providers.
Following an assessment of current systems and infrastructure, and incorporating business objectives with regards to cloud adoption, a detailed roadmap is produced to outline the proposed cloud solution and the steps required to achieve it. This will include tasks such as migration planning, optimisation and recommended modernisations necessary to take advantage of the opportunities presented by moving to the cloud.
Identifying the most appropriate mix of services to meet business and technical requirements, designed to make the best use of managed services and infrastructure in the cloud.
Migrating a system to the cloud broadly speaking comes in two ways - lift & shift or refactoring (partially or wholly) to make the solution cloud-native. Depending on the specific use-case and nature of the system being migrated, there is a sliding scale of benefits for each option.
Cloud platforms adhere to a multitude of security, compliance and industry standards, and provide tools to help customers meet their own security and regulatory requirements. Navigating through controls originally designed for internal networks and datacenters and applying those to the cloud can be confusing, which is where experience and familiarity with cloud security features comes into play.
With the cloud comes multiple ways to host sites and systems. From ‘classic' Virtual Machines, to static web hosting, containers and serverless apps, there are options to cater to every requirement . Additional managed services facilitate the downstream elements such as databases or caches, or take the heavy lifting out of backups and disaster recovery planning. This is the meat and bones of the work our experts perform, namely identifying and implementing the optimal solutions for each use case.
With the dizzying array of services and solutions offered by cloud platforms, there are additional complexities when it comes to managing cost and performance. Understanding the intricacies of resourcing for different service types is vital to ensure an efficient cost control across the cloud estate, so that both performance and cost-effectiveness are improved.
No matter which cloud you choose, moving to a private cloud or starting a project in the cloud carries many benefits. These advantages allow businesses to focus their energies on driving innovation and growth.
Along with its partners in crime, scalability and cost control, agility & flexibility is often the ‘gateway benefit' to the cloud. Cloud platforms provide a huge swathe of managed services to simplify the deployment of specific, targeted solutions, but even the simplest virtual machine provides a degree of flexibility otherwise unavailable to businesses. Need a big VM, a tiny one, or 392 instances for 41 minutes each day? No problem. Just switch it on.
Critically, it enables rapid setup in a classic start-up scenario, encouraging teams to get started quickly, or try different solutions, at minimal cost and effort. When done, just switch it off.
Due to the enormous compute power aggregated in the cloud, across hundreds of datacentres, there is almost limitless opportunity for scaling - up, down, or out to the sides. Additionally, by implementing auto-scaling policies, systems can adapt autonomously based on factors of your choice. Perhaps every Tuesday morning is heavy on reports, so you beef up your capacity. Or wait for the CPU to hit 65% and then add more machines.
Resources can be dynamically allocated to ensure optimal performance with the need for upfront investment in costly hardware, which is unlikely to be used efficiently for the duration of its lifetime. Particularly where system demands fluctuate significantly, the ability to scale on demand in the cloud ensures Just-In-Time performance, rather Pay-In-Advance-And-Hope-You-Guessed-Right.
Implementing reliable, redundant systems in the cloud is by nature much simpler than in a traditional datacentre. Cloud platforms provide access to a multitude of global regions, as well as several availability zones within each region. When you consider that each availability zone is typically comprised of two or more datacentres, it is clear how many levels of redundancy can easily be implemented in the cloud compared to typical on-premise datacentres.
Cloud-native solution architecture incorporates this distributed design by default, ensuring that resources are not all located in the same AZ to reduce the impact of issues in any single AZ. Additional cloud functionality such as managed services like Azure SQL or AWS RDS and serverless solutions like AWS Lambda and Azure Web Apps are layered on top of the distributed design to further abstract the ownership of reliability concerns onto the cloud provider.
Cloud providers such as AWS and Azure go to great lengths to secure their platforms and provide access to their compliance certifications and audit reports for a range of industry standards such as HIPAA, SOC 2, and ISO 27001. These are available in AWS Artifact and the Microsoft Trust Center, which demonstrates the commitment from the providers in ensuring they provide a robust and compliant platform for their end users, and is intended to build trust in their solutions.
Companies that adopt the cloud are immediately beneficiaries of their work, and can now focus efforts on securing the solutions that they deploy, instead of the underlying infrastructure. A range of security best practices, features and tools are provided as managed services by the cloud providers to simplify the process for customers.
Security in the cloud is a shared responsibility, granting significant benefits to customers who can build upon the secure infrastructure provided by the cloud providers.
We are a trusted, global software development company with a solid history of delivering cutting-edge solutions for global brands, equipping diverse organisations with the finest technology available.
Similar to today’s world, a software development and data process is not an immutable force. It changes. It develops. It grows. At The Virtual Forge, we have an agile mindset that makes us capable of adapting to unforeseen circumstances.
Our team comprises seasoned professionals from diverse backgrounds, bringing a wealth of knowledge and expertise.
A team of creative and analytical minds leverage cutting-edge technologies and out-of-the-box thinking to deliver innovative software solutions. We’re always on the lookout for new technologies that can enhance our offer, helping our clients materialise their needs into new systems that streamline their business processes.
Embracing challenges is acknowledged by our experts as a common part of any custom software development and data journey. With unwavering persistence and confidence in our capabilities, we tackle every obstacle head-on. You can rely on us to persevere until we find effective solutions, ensuring successful outcomes for your project.
Quality is our core focus. Our team ensures high standards through rigorous quality assurance processes, thorough testing, code reviews, and continuous improvement.
Our track record is a testament to our reliability. Always by our client’s side, ensuring that nothing is left to chance. With our commitment to excellence, we pride ourselves on delivering dependable solutions that businesses can trust.
The Cloud Services process at The Virtual Forge is a collaborative and iterative process, designed to expertly advise, manage and operationalise the solution that best fits your needs.
Review existing systems and infrastructure, and identify the business objectives and desired outcomes for cloud adoption, including regulatory or compliance requirements.
Define the scope and project requirements, mapping each element of the system to a suitable migration or deployment method, as well as the target infrastructure or service. Establish clear lines of communication and ownership via a RACI matrix, and set milestones for each stage of the project. Incorporate relevant elements of the AWS Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF) to plan the cloud adoption process.
Establish a landing zone and build out required infrastructure and connected services, with a principle-of-least-privilege approach. Based on the selected migration path, migrate existing solutions to private clouds directly via lift & shift or new deployment pipelines configured for the cloud environment, to better support future maintenance and updates.
Utilising the array of native monitoring tools available, configure estate monitoring to cover errors but also performance and cost. Enable alarms and verify the system can cope with variable loads and scale as designed, through performance monitoring.
When sufficient monitoring data has been collected over a representative period of time, review the effectiveness of the solution by analysing system performance, such as response times, and over- or under-provisioning based on metrics like CPU usage, query length, etc. Identify bottlenecks and opportunities for improvement where resource tuning or refactoring can reduce stress on specific components, and evaluate which areas are ripe for right-sizing for cost-efficiency.
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Discover the exponential possibilities of the cloud. We work with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure to give you solid infrastructure at a lower cost.
Our extensive knowledge in the manufacturing sector makes us a trustworthy partner for data-driven digital solutions.
The Virtual Forge team has more than 20 years experience developing custom solutions for Life Sciences clients.
We are experts in designing and developing data-driven custom software solutions for global brands in the automotive industry.
We can leverage our financial expertise to the most in-demand financial software. Our extensive range of customised financial solutions is specifically tailored to address the distinctive challenges faced by your business and sector.
The Virtual Forge is a trusted supplier of data-driven software solutions to Government and the Public Sector.
The Virtual Forge was responsible for creating a new technological solution for CleanCar, a smart analytics platform that can help fleet operators assess the costs and benefits of switching from ICE to EV fleets. The challenge was to rebuild the previous solution from the ground up to be capable of handling the large data influx.
The Virtual Forge was approached by Magnaflux to make recommendations around their Power BI reporting on global financial data. As the global leader in non-destructive testing, Magnaflux have been a part of the world’s progress helping develop safer parts for cars, jet liners and infrastructures.
Working with The Virtual Forge was a pleasure. The relationships that we build, quite quickly, led to a really lovely experience. The whole team was highly efficient, creative and tactical.
Working with The Virtual Forge made everyone enjoy being part of the project. It never felt like two separate teams, but just one big team. Everything felt natural, easy, even when there were challenges.
The Virtual Forge collaborates with several strategic partners to guarantee the delivery of cutting-edge services that meet and exceed clients' expectations. We are trusted by some of the most recognised technological brands in the world.
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Cloud has been a topic of introduction and discussion over the years, often perceived as intricate and almost otherworldly—a kind of magic that could came straight out of a tale from C. S. Lewis. However, the reality is far from magical - it is actually quite mundane.