CIO Cloud Computing 101 – Why use the cloud?
Does anyone besides me remember the big Furby craze that swept the US in the early 90s? People went crazy for these little stuffed dolls and started collecting them in the hope that one day they would be valuable. Well, that never happened and many people were left with expensive toys they couldn’t get rid of. Could the current cloud computing craze in IT be another Furby fad that will die out?
What kind of services are coming to the cloud?
If an IT director can get past the hype, he/she should take some time to do their homework to understand what kind of services a cloud can offer that their company can benefit from. Neal Leavitt has spent some time studying cloud computing and has divided cloud services into four types of services:
- Core Services: This isn’t glamorous, but it may be the most popular type of service that the cloud environment can offer your business. Basically simple internet based services like database functionality and capacity, middleware and additional storage are used to complement what your company already has.
- IaaS: Buzzword Alert – “Infrastructure as a Service”. This is when you rent a complete computer (CPU, memory, bandwidth, etc.) that you access over the internet. You would use this infrastructure to run your company’s applications on a lock-stock-and-barrel basis.
- PaaS: Platform as a Service – provides your company with a development environment that your IT staff can use to build new applications for the rest of the company (and your customers) to use. It’s a PC plus development tools.
- SaaS: Software as a Service – This is where you don’t care what the software does, you just want to buy access to the application. The most famous example of this is Salesforce.com’s CRM application.
Why go cloud?
The research company Forrester did some investigation and now they claim that most company data centers are using less than 50% of their total capacity. Despite the hype currently developing around cloud computing, Leavitt revealed three very good reasons to look into getting your business started using cloud computing:
- Availability: Interestingly enough, despite many businesses’ concerns about losing control of their IT equipment, there’s a lot to be said for having a professional firm that has the deep pockets needed for redundant systems and proven disaster recovery plans , which manage your IT infrastructure. If you work in a small or even medium-sized business, this may be especially valuable to you.
- App Integration: Sorry, we can’t do anything about the old apps you’re using. But the new ones that are built to run in the cloud will almost automatically be easy to integrate because they will use the suite of web interface languages/tools (SOAP, XML, etc.) that make this easy to do.
- Flexibility: Unlike most cell phone providers in the US, most cloud providers currently do not require users to sign long-term contracts that lock them in. This makes it easy to quickly get more cloud resources when your business needs them.
It’s all too easy for change-averse CIOs to look at the current hype around cloud computing and decide that it’s just another fad that will fade with time. The reality is that cloud computing provides several different types of services that are useful to any IT department. This cannot be ignored.
Additionally, successfully adding cloud computing resources to a company’s existing IT infrastructure will mean that CIOs will have found a way to apply IT to enable the rest of the company to grow faster, move faster and to do more.
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