Why Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is Internet-based IT services where all the resources required to run an application are delivered on-demand, like a public utility. When you virtualize everything, you get the cloud.

Cloud-computing hosting has three distinct characteristics that differentiate it from traditional server hosting.

The service is fully managed by the provider–the end user needs nothing but a browser on some device and Internet access

It is sold on demand–a user can consume as much or as little of a service as they want at any time

Usually charged for by the minute or the hour

Significant innovations in server and storage technology, virtualization, improved access to high-speed Internet, increasing costs of owning a data center, as well as a weak economy have all been accelerating cloud computing adoption.

Cloud computing makes a lot of sense for many IT services, such as email, collaboration, CRM, business continuity, and disaster recovery. It provides a reliable IT infrastructure for a very low cost. For example, small to medium-sized businesses have benefited from software as a service (SaaS) such as Salesforce.com and Google Apps (at $50 per user per year with 99.9% email uptime guarantee, you can’t go wrong).

With enterprise, there is a whole different set of questions around cloud computing have to be addressed. 

How can we merge this technology with our existing IT infrastructure?

Is it going to meet security, regulatory, and privacy needs of my organization?

If my internet connection fails, what backup strategy do I have to stay operational?

A cloud can be either public or private. A public cloud sells services via the Internet to anyone who has access. For example, Amazon Web Services is currently the largest public cloud provider. 

A private cloud is a proprietary network or a data center that supplies hosted services to a specific group of people. Private clouds deliver some benefits of cloud-computing without the potential hazards, such as data security, corporate governance, and reliability issues. However, with a private cloud, organizations still need to purchase, build, and manage them, and so do not benefit from lower capital expenses and ease of management. 

When a service provider uses a public cloud resource to host their private cloud, the result is called a virtual private cloud. Public or private, the main objective of cloud computing is to provide easy, scalable access to computing resources and IT services.

Cloud Computing Benefits

Cost: Allows you to convert capital expenditure to operational expenditure. This is a big deal to many organizations, as cloud infrastructure is typically provided by a third-party. Using a utility-pricing model with usage-based options makes financial sense for more and more organizations. This makes it very popular for hosting infrequent compute-intensive tasks. 

Agility: The time to provision technological infrastructure resources becomes almost instantaneous.

Reliability: With cloud vendors operating multiple redundant sites, reliability is increased considerably, and so cloud computing solutions become suitable for disaster recovery and business continuity. Some organizations will use the public cloud for this purpose alone.

Scalability: Automatic dynamic provisioning of the cloud allows users to scale performance loads, on a self-service basis.

Security: While the cloud is more secure than a laptop or handheld device that can be stolen, concerns persist about potential security issues in a public cloud. 

Maintenance: Cloud-computing applications are easier to maintain, since they are not installed on each individual’s computer, but rather centrally located where they can be updated and maintained by the host.

More thoughts to come!