Understanding cloud computing
Cloud computing is one of the hottest topics in IT but it can be a confusing one too. There are strong business reasons and benefits for why you should understand cloud computing and reading this article is a good start.
If you’re a CIO, you’ll be trying to get your head around cloud computing’s impacts and ROI as IT is such a critical component of any business. As a business owner, you will probably be wondering whether it is something you really need to look at.
For many businesses, providing IT capabilities is very costly. Computer systems must be bought and upgraded, new software installed, systems maintained and computers specialists hired and trained.
The main attraction of cloud computing is that companies can avoid buying and running hardware and software by contracting these services to a third party provider. The current commercial model of buying software in a box or already loaded onto the computer is well established. However, the day you buy your software it is out of date because by the time it gets shipped to the stores, the developers are already working on a newer version with added functionality and new features.
Then comes the upgrade process. Updates are made available on a regular basis depending on the development cycles of individual companies. In some cases, the companies provide updates for free and others charge their users.
More recently, as the code as become more sophisticated, the code files become larger and in turn the storage requirement to run the code becomes greater. This in turn requires the hardware to be upgraded. That means more servers, more boxes, greater hardware infrastructure, more maintenance requirements and bigger IT departments, just to keep the systems running.
Pay for what you use
The key to cloud computing is that you only pay for what you use. It also enables a company’s IT department to concentrate its efforts on innovation rather than being there to keep the system going.
Cloud computing provides the ability to grow or shrink capacity in response to demand. Companies have realised that this competes strongly on scalability, price, ROI and overall business process improvement. CIOs have to design their data centres to take peak loads, but during off-peak times that capacity sits unused and idling at great expense. That costs you every day.
Consider cloud computing as moving into an apartment. If you moved into a house you are responsible for cleaning the pool, sweeping the paths, trimming the hedges, mowing the lawns and looking after the grounds and fences; in fact, everything on this property you have to maintain.
However, had you moved into an apartment building you would only have your own apartment space to arrange. You customise it to your own needs with your own furniture. It will probably look nothing like your next door neighbour’s apartment. The cool thing is that the pool, grounds, gymnasium and tennis court are maintained for you.
In the apartment you get the benefit of using all the infrastructure and customising your own living space without the hassle of looking after all the infrastructure. That’s cloud computing: living in an apartment that you can make your own while someone else looks after all the heavy lifting.
It’s like the power company. You ring them and they turn on the power. You plug into a power grid and they run the generators, load the coal burners produce the power and you just plug and play!