Still in the dark about Cloud Computing?

According to a recent study*, most of today’s business people don’t understand what cloud computing is, or even does…

Imagine going back in time to the late 1980’s and trying to explain to some larger businesses what the internet is and how it will revolutionize the way they will come to run their operations. It’s extremely likely that they’re not going to understand how this technology (the internet) will allow them to streamline their internal operations and interface with consumers.

While comparing the emergence of cloud computing to that of the internet isn’t really a perfect illustration, it does convey the current level of understanding (of cloud computing) possessed by most businesspersons with regards to it. This is to say that most businesspeople simply don’t understand how cloud computing works, or how it might be able to add value to their operation(s).

Aside from the fact that (for all intents and purposes) cloud computing is really just an evolution of the networking – computing model, the real disparity is that business-minded individuals simply aren’t grasping the big picture. On its face, cloud computing is basically computing facilitated through networking. In other words, a more economical approach is adopted whereby all computing assets are centralized, then accessed / requisitioned by individuals via networking. This is of course, a gross oversimplification of how cloud computing works, but the principle is still applicable.

What cloud computing can do for businesses

There are a number of clear benefits that are open to businesses that are intrepid enough to adopt a cloud computing infrastructure / model. For instance, most organizations become interested in cloud computing because of the energy-related savings it is able to offer. When you examine the current model for IT infrastructure (also called grid computing / networking), you’ll notice right away that it requires a constant and heavy stream of power to be fed into dozens if not hundreds of individual computers. An overwhelming majority of these machines are vastly overpowered for the work they perform; additionally, they are self contained (their own processors, storage, software, etc…). The problem is that every single one of these machines consumes a substantial amount of electricity on a regular basis, yet does not necessarily produce anything to cover its own costs of operation, so to speak.

To put it simply, most computers operating on an extended corporate network are merely wasting energy and yielding virtually nothing in return. In a cloud computing setup, all “individual” computing is virtualized (more or less simulated), users access their computing resources via terminals or nodes (perhaps via a tablet, for example). This allows users to instantly access their personal “machine” wherever they might be, and eliminates the need for hundreds of machines to be constantly running / idling (cloud computing is often deployed as an “on-demand” service).

In addition to helping trim energy consumption costs, cloud computing is also poised to revolutionize the way that businesses utilize and run their IT assets. These days, technology is being used to not only facilitate profit generation; it’s also directly producing revenue. For instance, many organizations which have successfully established their own cloud infrastructures might in turn begin packaging their own services and marketing them to their own clients. Since virtually anything can be deployed as a service via cloud architecture, the possibilities for future growth in this area is nearly unlimited.

Competition (in terms of the implementation and use of technology) is also a big area of concern for most businesses, or at least it should be. Cloud computing has already been adopted by most big time corporations (as well as governmental branches, the armed forces, universities, hospitals, and others), and they’re using it to effectively “raise the bar” in terms of competitive standards. This is yet another of the many reasons why today’s business owners need to get into cloud computing as soon as possible.

Before you, as a business owner or manager can begin utilizing cloud computing however, you’re going to need a technical team that’s familiar with its finer points. This is of course where cloud computing training and certification comes into play. Getting your entire IT department certified in one or more cloud-related disciplines has never been easier and more affordable. Now, you can buy group rate discounted e-learning courses for cloud computing which your IT group can use to gain the knowledge and experience they will require to manage and maintain a cloud infrastructure. These programs are state-of-the-art and have been designed by cloud computing experts. Likewise, the manner in which the materials for many of these programs are presented really reinforces learning and retention of information, so you know you’re getting your money’s worth.

Like it or not, cloud computing is the future

Regardless of how you might feel about cloud computing as a whole, the fact of the matter is that it is going to be around for a while (and will likely revolutionize many facets of computing, networking, and business). These are just a few of the many reasons why you need to begin preparing your organization for a transition to cloud computing; you know what they say, “the early bird gets the worm” or “you snooze, you lose”. Those individuals and businesses who are savvy enough to jump into cloud technology early stand to make substantial gains. To learn more visit our website.

The Value Of Cloud Computing

Why is cloud computing the newest buzz term? What value does it bring to organizations? “It’s become the phrase du jour. The problem is that (as with Web 2.0) everyone seems to have a different definition. The “cloud” is obviously a metaphor for the internet but when you add in the term “computing” the whole phrase gets muddy. However, when you think of the needs of an organizations IT structure it starts to become clearer.

The concept of cloud computing is a way to increase capacity or add capabilities on the fly without investing in new infrastructure, training new personnel, or licensing new software. Cloud computing encompasses any subscription-based or pay-per-use service that, in real time over the Internet, extends IT’s existing capabilities. Cloud computing is location-independent computing, whereby shared servers provide resources, software, and data to computers and other devices on demand. Cloud computing describes a new supplement, consumption, and delivery model for IT services based on the Internet, and it typically involves over-the-Internet provision of dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources. It is a by product and consequence of the ease-of-access to remote computing sites provided by the Internet. This frequently takes the form of web-based tools or applications that users can access and use through a web browser as if it were a program installed locally on their own computer. Most cloud computing infrastructures consist of services delivered through common centers and built on servers. Clouds often appear as single points of access for consumers’ computing needs. Commercial offerings are generally expected to meet quality of service (QoS) requirements of customers, and typically include service level agreements (SLAs).

There’s a good chance you’ve already used some form of cloud computing. If you have an e-mail account with a Web-based e-mail service like Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail or Gmail, then you’ve had some experience with cloud computing. Instead of running an e-mail program on your computer, you log in to a Web e-mail account remotely. The software and storage for your account doesn’t exist on your computer — it’s on the service’s computer cloud. The applications of cloud computing are practically limitless. With the right middle-ware, a cloud computing system could execute all the programs a normal computer could run. Potentially, everything from generic word processing software to customized computer programs designed for a specific company could work on a cloud computing system. Why would anyone want to rely on another computer system to run programs and store data? Here are just a few reasons:

  • Clients would be able to access their applications and data from anywhere at any time. They could access the cloud computing system using any computer linked to the Internet. Data wouldn’t be confined to a hard drive on one user’s computer or even a corporation’s internal network.
  • It could bring hardware costs down. Cloud computing systems would reduce the need for advanced hardware on the client side. You wouldn’t need to buy the fastest computer with the most memory, because the cloud system would take care of those needs for you. Instead, you could buy an inexpensive computer terminal. The terminal could include a monitor, input devices like a keyboard and mouse and just enough processing power to run the middleware necessary to connect to the cloud system. You wouldn’t need a large hard drive because you’d store all your information on a remote computer.
  • Corporations that rely on computers have to make sure they have the right software in place to achieve goals. Cloud computing systems give these organizations company-wide access to computer applications. The companies don’t have to buy a set of software or software licenses for every employee. Instead, the company could pay a metered fee to a cloud computing company.
  • Servers and digital storage devices take up space. Some companies rent physical space to store servers and databases because they don’t have it available on site. Cloud computing gives these companies the option of storing data on someone else’s hardware, removing the need for physical space on the front end.
  • Corporations might save money on IT support. Streamlined hardware would, in theory, have fewer problems than a network of heterogeneous machines and operating systems.
  • If the cloud computing system’s back end is a grid computing system, then the client could take advantage of the entire network’s processing power. Often, scientists and researchers work with calculations so complex that it would take years for individual computers to complete them. On a grid computing system, the client could send the calculation to the cloud for processing. The cloud system would tap into the processing power of all available computers on the back end, significantly speeding up the calculation.

What A CIO Needs From Cloud Computing

If you haven’t already signed up for a cloud then you will be doing so shortly. However, before you start writing the check, you really should know what you are buying.

What Makes A Cloud A Cloud

At a high level, I suspect that we all understand what cloud computing is: somebody else maintains a collection of generic servers that you can pay to use as needed. Sure sounds simple enough – it’s just basically IT outsourcing taken to its logical extreme. However, there’s more to it than just that.

Dave Durkee has taken a look at cloud computing and he has identified what he calls the seven essential characteristics that make up cloud computing:

Access on-demand: one of the key features of cloud computing is that it provides a company with more and more computing power as their needs increase.

Grow / Shrink: unlike the days in which a company would purchase a server, install it, and then live with it forever, cloud computing allows companies to both add and shed computing power on an as-needed basis. .

Pay-As-You-Grow: cloud computing allows a company to match its IT expenses more closely to its actual needs. Just like a gas, water, or electric utility, cloud computing is a subscription service that you get charged for based on how much you’ve used. .

Lots Of Connections: although not discussed as much as it should, running your applications in the cloud assumes that you have reliable high-speed access to other servers and storage in the same cloud that you are using as well as high-speed access to the Internet. .

Economies Of Scale: since a cloud provider is not only servicing your company, but also other companies at the same time, they should be able to buy in bulk and therefore keep costs lower than you would be able to do on your own. .
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: when you use the cloud, you really don’t know where your data or applications physically are. Despite not knowing this, the cloud provider can be expected to provide you with some level of service level agreement. .

Dating, Not Marriage: just because you pick a particular cloud provider, doesn’t mean that you have to stick with them forever. Instead, you should imagine a future where you move from cloud to cloud based on business needs. .

Service Models & Things That Impact Price

The next thing that a CIO needs to understand when they go cloud shopping is just exactly what type of service model they are interested in. All clouds are not created equal.

Currently there are three different flavors of clouds for CIOs to choose from:

IaaS: Infrastructure as a Service – this is a bare-bones cloud offering. You get an OS on a server with some storage and connectivity. That’s it – you need to provide everything else. .

PaaS: Platform as a Service – this is one step up from IaaS. Instead of a raw server, this time out you’re purchasing a complete development environment. This means that you’ll get the server, OS, and some set of applications such as LAMP [Linux (operating system), Apache HTTP Server, MySQL (database software) and Perl/PHP/Python] .

SaaS: Software as a Service – this is the most sophisticated cloud offering currently available. Instead of worrying about servers or development stacks, you purchase access to an application that runs within the cloud. Salesforce.com is a great example of SaaS. .

What All Of This Means For You

CIOs know that moving into a cloud is no longer an “if”, but rather a “when”. This means that they need to spend some time to learn what they need to look for when they go cloud shopping.

CIOs need to ensure that clouds that they are considering have a set of basic characteristics. These include on-demand access, elasticity, pay-per-use, connectivity, etc. CIOs will need to decide which of the three basic cloud service models will best meet the needs of their IT department.

All clouds are not created the same. Every CIO will eventually find himself / herself shopping for a cloud. Using the guidelines that we’ve discussed, CIOs can compare and contrast clouds so that they can end up selecting the cloud that works best for their company…