Up in the air: A revolution in the clouds
Cloud computing revolutionises models of computing for businesses worldwide
Widely hailed as the IT modus operandi of the future, an increasing number of companies and organisations are utilising cloud computing solutions. The core of the technology is that rather than store hardware and software on network computers in the office, the components and information are stored remotely online.
Accessing the servers via the internet, users are spared the considerable infrastructure investment involved in installing and keeping IT equipment on site, as well as any staff and maintenance expenditures. Apart from these obvious economic advantages, there is also the added benefit of an easy payment system. Regardless of whether customers chose a subscription or pay-as-you-go approach, both are comparable to those available for mobile phones, when users are charged only for what they use.
One way to measure the current prominence of cloud computing is to look at the businesses leading the way. Global giants Google, IBM and Amazon are all key players and Open Cirrus, founded as a think-tank for the cloud computing sector, unites companies including HP, Yahoo! and Intel under one research- and solution-centred umbrella.
Meanwhile, IBM has launched its own ambitious industry initiative, the Cloud Academy. An international forum for teachers, researchers and IT personnel in the education sector, it has so far seen 17 schools and universities come together to further cloud computing innovations, including Carnegie Mellon University Qatar, Texas A&M University at Qatar and Qatar University.
Enthusiasm for the online cloud is undoubtedly growing but certain reservations also linger. As in all cases where non-public information is stored online, there are concerns regarding privacy and the level of data security, with many calling for improvements to be made.
A 2009 study by the US-based Information Technology Intelligence Corporation (ITIC) looked into the decision making process and perception of IT managers at 300 corporations across the globe. It found, unsurprisingly, that security topped the billing when it comes to why they were hesitant about investing in cloud computing. ITIC, however, pointed out that although security is a stumbling block, of those that said they would not be implementing cloud computing in the near future, almost a third said that they were assessing it and had not reached a solid conclusion.
ITIC says that the most willingness to explore and potentially invest in cloud services was demonstrated by larger enterprises. According to an analysis of its findings, ITIC reveals that among companies with over 3,000 end-users, 57% said they would either deploy or were considering a public or private cloud implementation over the next 12 to 18 months.
"It is imperative that cloud computing vendors provide customers and prospective customers with transparency and full accountability with respect to crucial issues like security, technical service and support, equipment and capacity of their data centres and an overview of the technology used such as specific server equipment, virtualisation and management," added the report.
1148 days ago
Cloud Computing is not a new concept. Similar concepts were promoted before under different names such as: Virtulization, Capacity on Demand, Web hosting, Next Generation Data Centre (NGN), Utility computing, and others. If we dive into the subject further we find out today that DC clouds are classified as private clouds ( only serving one end user), and public clouds ( serving multiple customer on shared insfrastructure). A company might decide to go for a private cloud, Public Cloud, or mix. For instance, if security is of concern, and/or if the nature of their services and applications are of a very specific nature ( almost uniqe, or have been heavily customized), economy of scale is valid, and inhouse skills do not exist, then it makes sense to go for a private cloud. Also, the same company could consider a public cloud for their applications where secrurity is of a lesser concern, or where the industry offers a mature and pre-defined ready offered services. The cloud service provider today usually create a portfolio of offerings starting from: Infrastructure As A Service (IAAS), to Platform AS A Service (PAAS), to Software As A Service (SAAS), and hopefully reaching Everything As A Service (EAAS) or (XAAS). So if we take for instance IAAS we find the equivalent long offered services by the industry were: Web Hosting, Capacity on Demand, and Virtulization. If we take for instance AAAS we find very well mature services that existed for a long time and been used by large companies such as: Salesforce.com (CRM and others), Yahoo, google, Hotmail ( email), and of course web 2.0 forums ( facebook,Twitter,etc...). Similarly the XAAS is equivalent to what was known long back as "Full Outsourcing". In summary, Cloud Computing is nothing but rebranding some of the old concepts in a move by industry leaders to generate more infrastructure, software, and services revenues. Certainly Cloud Computing sounds as a good buzz word, but each company must evaluate it carefully taking into consideration the maturity of the service they are requesting, security, DC Tiering classifications, Skill sets, degree of customization, and most importantly the network connectivity cost which could be very expensive in some countries.