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
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-
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.
If you would like further information about cloud computing click here