Understanding The Cloud

 |  6 September 2020

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You don’t need to know much about computing to know that the Cloud is a game-changer. But do you understand why? Let’s take a look at what the Cloud is and why it’s helping businesses like Flux do more for our customers.

What is the Cloud, anyway?

‘The Cloud’ is a useful umbrella term now commonly used to describe various kinds of data storage and computation services. It might appear invisible, but the Cloud relies on the same physical server hardware to do its work as any computer network. What makes the Cloud different is that it’s constructed in a way that makes it easy to securely access its storage and processing capabilities over the internet. Not surprisingly, it’s changed the way many organisations operate – including Flux.

In very basic terms, the Cloud is a place to store data and run code. There are three ‘forms’ of Cloud: public (companies that provide huge amounts of storage and processing power that can be accessed by many different companies or organisations); private (used by a single organisation) and hybrid (which combines the benefits of public and private clouds into one package).

What are Cloud-based services?

There are three types of Cloud-based service: Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). They’re all connected and use each others’ services in different ways.

Flux is a SaaS company, offering energy retailers around the world a secure, intuitive solution for their customers. SaaS businesses like Flux offer software solutions that run through web browsers, reducing software management needs for users. SaaS providers manage the necessary data, operating systems and infrastructure, so the software is ready whenever needed. 

PaaS is more concerned with the development tools, operations and database management systems needed to build, test and manage software apps. Using PaaS offerings means easy, efficient and remote access to the tools and services required. 

IaaS is the most comprehensive cloud-based service. IaaS providers manage the physical infrastructure required (such as servers and storage space in a data centre), while enabling their clients to configure, use and build the software they need for their products. This enables companies to grow as they go without having to build or manage in-house infrastructure.

What does this mean for Flux customers?

Being Cloud-based brings multiple advantages for Flux and for our customers. Managing our own infrastructure in-house has significant operational overheads and uses a skillset that’s increasingly difficult to recruit for. As a global SaaS platform, Flux recognises the benefits of using industry-leading Amazon Web Services (AWS) to do the heavy lifting of infrastructure management. This means Flux can concentrate on what we’re good at – building a modular suite of products that suit your company’s needs. Think of Mercedes Benz, for example. They don’t make tyres, because they know their skills lie in building powerful engines and luxurious car bodies. It’s the same for Flux. Using the Cloud allows us to excel at building engaging, future-focused solutions, and to pass the operational cost savings on to our clients and their customers.  

Being Cloud-based means we can test our products in a production-like environment at the tap of a command – so we can iron out any niggles before we ship any code. Using Cloud services gives us access to a greater number of tools to solve problems – we can leverage these to develop new features more efficiently.

Is the Cloud safe?

Absolutely. We take security extremely seriously at Flux – we know our clients hold a lot of their customers’ extremely sensitive and business-critical data, so we don’t want to take any chances. AWS enables us to build secure systems and gives us access to experts who are industry leaders in keeping data safe and available.

Being Cloud-based also means less risk to our physical infrastructure in the event of a natural disaster or other calamity.

How can a Cloud-native platform help energy retailers?

If you’re an energy retailer, working with a Cloud-native SaaS provider like Flux could be the secret sauce you need to take your business to the next level. Installed enterprise software normally has just a few updates per year (which the administrator has to manage on their own server), which can be a constraint if you’re looking to implement something at speed. Cloud-based platforms typically have a much faster feature-update cycle, which means you can be more agile and responsive to regulatory changes, and fix issues or implement new features more quickly.  

Being Cloud-based allows Flux to offer our clients access to testing environments that use near-live data – an important step if you’re looking to implement and test new offers or processes in tight timeframes.

A Cloud-based platform is the obvious choice if you’re looking to scale your business efficiently and lower your cost-to-serve, because it allows you to auto-scale server availability to match demand peaks and troughs. If you were relying on on-premise software and infrastructure, you’d have to build capacity to meet peak demand. 

In addition, fully Cloud-based platforms enable and support remote working – there’s no reliance on on-premise infrastructure or server, so your people can truly work from anywhere.

Being Cloud-native enables Flux to move faster and do more for our clients. We’d love the chance to show you what we can do for you.

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