Computing in the cloud
You’ve probably heard a lot of talk lately about cloud computing.
Every major technology company from Microsoft and Amazon to
Hewlett-Packard and IBM has a cloud strategy. Most are singing the
praises of cloud computing to consumers and businesses. Analysts,
researchers and even the mainstream media talk about the
cloud as a paradigm shift in technology. But what can cloud
computing do for your business?
What is cloud computing?
At the most basic level, the cloud delivers computing as a service
rather than a product. For decades, you’ve had access to
computing services from the CPU on your desk or your lap.
Programs tap into the microprocessor, which does millions of
calculations per second and delivers results to you. Cloud
computing shifts the processing from your local server or PC to
a highly connected datacenter somewhere on Earth. The bits of
data that used to stream from your local CPUs to your screen are instead delivered over the Internet from the datacenter.
In other words, the cloud is all about abstracting the work from your local system to a remote system. There are similarities in other industries. Manufacturers, for example, once built factories next to power plants, whether a running river or something more sophisticated. Eventually, power delivery grew more robust. Power plants could be located hundreds of miles from factories. Power became a service you bought, not something you made yourself. It became a utility. A provider of cloud-computing services can also be thought of as a utility.
Who are the primary users of cloud computers?
Companies of all sizes are increasingly tapping the power of cloud computing to increase the availability of applications and to reduce costs. A global enterprise company, for example, can host an application in the cloud rather than its own datacenters. Users would have no idea that they are accessing a cloud service, but the organization would see tremendous cost savings because the cloud provider is responsible for maintaining the infrastructure. In addition, the client is billed only for services used, just like you’re charged for electricity used on your power bill. Generally speaking, this is much more efficient for companies than buying servers, building datacenters and hoping that the infrastructure is not over-utilized or under-utilized.
Whether you know it or not, you are probably relying on cloud computing today. If you access
Apple Inc.’s iTunes, you’re tapping the cloud. The same is true of many enterprise applications,
such as those from Salesforce.com. A number of startups also rely heavily on cloud computing to
launch their companies as it’s more cost effective than building their own datacenters.
What are the other benefits?
Besides cost and global presence, cloud computing can greatly simplify disaster planning and
disaster recovery. Service providers take care of backing up your data and applications so you
don’t have to. Plus, the cloud can simplify upgrades to an application. If it’s hosted entirely in the
cloud, the application only needs to be installed and updated once for it to be available to all users.
And every user will always be using the most up to date version.
How do I get started?
First, review the cloud offerings of technology companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, HP, IBM or
CloudShare. Determine how you would benefit from having your data in the cloud or your applications running in the cloud. Review your organization’s network.
Can it support the increased demands from shuttling data from your cloud provider? You’ll also need to closely review the architecture of your applications. They may need to be rebuilt to connect to the cloud rather than local computers or existing datacenters.
Thanks the TIB Team