For many businesses, the future of hardware infrastructures and software licensing has been realized through Cloud Computing. Whether through a hybrid approach or an all-in change, the adoption of these services has become the norm and is growing every day. This paradigm shift is not specific to industry; government, education, and private sector companies focused on everything from video games to hardware supply are making the move to Cloud Computing as a basis for their operations.
Despite its rapid adoption and continued growth, many people have only a small understanding of what the term Cloud Computing really means. A very straight forward definition from Microsoft is:
“Simply put, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services—including servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence—over the Internet (“the cloud”) to offer faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale. You typically pay only for cloud services you use, helping you lower your operating costs, run your infrastructure more efficiently, and scale as your business needs change.”
For example, provisioning a new virtual machine that is hosted in the cloud or Exchange mail services that are provisioned and hosted in the cloud.
As with other organizations and industries, and perhaps even more so, Cloud Computing is incredibly useful for brand licensing. The ability for fast and easy collaboration with licensees, enhanced data security, turnkey compliance, and reduced administrative overhead are only a few reasons.
Consider, for example, the ability to email a licensing contract to someone in an encrypted format and ensure that it could not be forwarded to anyone else in the licensee’s organization, presented as part of desktop sharing, or even printed. This can all be accomplished through Cloud Computing.
It should be noted that accomplishing what was depicted in the above example can also be accomplished when hosting an in-house email server. The two tremendous differences are complexity and cost.
The organization performing this in-house would need to purchase hardware, license the operating system, license the mail server, and hire IT personnel to configure everything. Within the context of Cloud Computing, this can be accomplished with a handful of button clicks.
Regardless of the advantages that come with Cloud Computing many brand owners are hesitant to move forward with its adoption. Some concerns include: Security, performance, compliance, cost, etc. The remainder of those document will help to determine whether or not these concerns are valid within the context of brand licensing.
As mentioned previously, Cloud Computing, essentially, refers to any IT services provisioned and accessed through the Internet. Once the decision has been made to adopt this model, a Cloud Service Provider must be selected. Common examples of such providers include Microsoft, Amazon, and Google. Due to its wide adoption, these providers have begun to work with resellers. Such providers will resell and, optionally, manage the services for its clients.
The provider selected will manage the underlying infrastructure upon which servers, software, services, etc. run. This type of solution removes the pain of making high upfront hardware and infrastructure costs as well as the need to maintain and manage that hardware, infrastructure, and software. The responsibilities, that would otherwise fall within the purview of the brand owner, become the onus of the provider.
The only responsibility for internal administrators is to provision the size and amount of computing resources needed for business operations. Adding more resources is painless and instantaneous.
There are 3 primary cloud computing components. They include the following:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): This is sometimes referred to as hardware as a service. It provides access to networks, server resources, data storage, etc. through virtualization. This service provides organizations with control and flexibility over computing resources in a highly flexible and scalable manner allowing consumption of only what is required.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS): A set of components used to develop and support a product or service. This might include an operating system, hosted database service, etc. It is, essentially, the environment in which applications and software are developed and hosted.
- Software as a Service (SaaS): This refers to end user applications that are maintained and updated by your provider. Such applications are typically accessed through a thin client (e.g. Web browser). The basic setup and configuration of these applications is handled by the provider, after which specific settings (e.g. email encryption) would be setup by an internal administrator.
The image below helps to depict the relationships and functions of each different cloud computing services.
Advantages over traditional in-house, colocation, or managed datacenter solutions
There are countless benefits to adopting a Cloud Computing model. Before detailing these, consider the overhead, from all aspects, of more traditional computing models. For example, in-house hosting requires, at a minimum:
- The proper hosting environment that would include power, cooling, rack space, switches, firewalls, etc.
- Servers to host the software required for business operations (e.g. Exchange Server, Windows Server OS, File Servers, etc.
- Licensing for the software required, which is typically done on a per-core basis.
- IT personnel to manage the infrastructure, servers, and server software.
- Support personnel to address any issues that may be reported by end users.
Colocation, meaning leasing rack space from a datacenter, eliminates the need for a hosting environment and the personnel required to manage it, but includes everything else. A managed datacenter solution would remove the need to purchase servers and the need to manage the physical hardware, though not the software. In general, the requirements for more traditional models result in:
- Large administrative overhead.
- Considerable to extensive upfront costs.
- The need for large teams to manage hardware and software.
- Very little flexibility to scale.
These issues, and more, are addressed with Cloud Computing. Some of the advantages compared to the traditional hosting models are outlined below:
Cloud-based systems are quite convenient for enterprises that are not tied down to a single physical location or are growing at a fast pace. Provisioning additional virtual machines, increasing their available resources, and increasing data storage can be done quickly and easily at any given time within the cloud platform.
At Dependable Solutions (DSI), users have access to several cloud servers with high throughput speed. Dependable Rights Manager (DRM) application enables you to perform at maximum efficiency, with high availability and security, even as your transaction volume and number of internal/external users increase.
Knowing that users can access cloud resources and hosted applications, like DRM, 24/7 from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection provides peace of mind and allows a brand owner to focus on their business, not on IT.
This can be incredibly important if licensing outside of a local territory or in the global market.
DSI provisions Web servers, application servers and database servers designed to support our clients’ needs. Users may select a dedicated or shared environment to host their DRM application and data.
At DSI, our cloud servers are hosted by Azure and include sites on the West coast of the United States and in France. This ensures that both US and European clients have optimal performance and accessibility. Using a standard connection to a leading Internet browser, users (licensees, agents, licensors, etc.) can access DRM 24/7 on multiple devices – from any geographic location.
Cloud Computing services can reduce IT costs in the long run. After adopting the model there is no longer a need to purchase new in-house hardware, operating systems, software licenses, hardware/software updates, nor be troubled by maintaining and supporting these resources with additional IT staff.
From a financial justification standpoint, Cloud Computing services is recorded, not as a capital expenditure but, as an operational expense.
DSI provides the infrastructure and charges only for monthly usage and the applications. Customers do not need to purchase infrastructure for one-time or infrequent but intensive computing tasks, and do not need as many people with IT skills on staff. This is made possible through Cloud Computing.
Faster Time to Market:
Cloud Computing facilitates rapid development and deployment of application (PaaS). A single deployment can live in multiple geographic regions within minutes compared to deploying software and database updates to physical servers at each worldwide location.
At DSI, Windows software releases/upgrades as well as DRM updates are deployed to multiple regions globally and accessible instantaneously – without the need to power down users’ desktop computers.
In addition, maintenance updates are fully automated and scheduled to be performed on a regular basis outside of normal working hours to minimize any impact on users.
Data Security (Peace-of-mind):
Data security issues are a relevant concern for all business owners. Although Cloud Computing services are growing exponentially and an increasing number of high security measures are being developed, there are still many concerns regarding data security.
Many of these concerns rise from the fact that securing environments correctly is very costly, time consuming, and complicated. Adding in requirements for actual compliance standards can make it financially unviable to properly secure an in-house solution.
Utilizing the secured (and certified) infrastructure of a cloud service provider does, in fact, provided a higher degree of security than in-house hosted systems. DSI’s hosted solution takes advantage of this fact by using Azure as its cloud services provider.
This includes everything from encrypted data drives on all servers to firewall rules and network architectures.
Monitoring the performance, usage, and uptime/downtime of application and the virtual servers upon which they are hosted is elementary using any of the off-the-shelf metrics monitoring tools designed for Cloud Computing environments.
DSI utilizes two different Azure Services for this: Application Insights for application monitory, and Azure Insights for server monitory. These tools track/analyze performance, traffic patterns, and usage to provide a proactive approach to eliminate any issues before they surface.
- Cloud Computing provides brand owners with the freedom to collaborate, share, and access key data anytime and anywhere.
- Cloud Computing lower costs for infrastructure, hardware, and personnel. Overhead for IT costs become operational instead of capital expenses.
- Cloud Computing provides a great deal of accessibility, making international licensing far easier to launch and monitor.
- Cloud-based computing provides instant scalability, which means that rapid growth and increased use can be accommodated without large resource and time costs.
- Cloud-based computing systems are also highly secure. Server locations can also be controlled for further privacy protection.
- Important metrics can always be monitored and recorded, giving users access to reports to track and analyze performance.
Cloud-based computing systems can make the task of managing contracts, digital assets, tracking royalties, product development and product approvals, and financial reporting much easier for all enterprises. There are countless benefits, and overall, cloud computing systems are simple for everyone to use.
Previously in this document, some of the concerns that brand owners typically have when it comes to the adoption of Cloud Computing were mentioned: Security, performance, compliance, and cost. The previously mentioned advantages of Cloud Computing address these concerns, at least from a high level. More detailed information is available is it applies to a hosted instance of DRM.
Parties interested in the details surrounding Cloud Computing and DRM should contact DSI at 877-289-8431, International number US: +1 424 213 6663 | UK: +44 203 882 3370 for further discussion. DSI can help brand owners move their consumer product licensing business and future to work into “the cloud.”