What is cloud computing?
In its simplest state, cloud computing is the delivery of hardware and application services over the cloud (a metaphor for the internet) on demand. This is done as an alternative to hosting and maintaining your own servers and application software. In cloud computing, businesses only pay for the resources that they consume. Businesses that host services and applications in the cloud improve overall computer utilization rates, as servers are running at or near full capacity from clients connecting remotely. Cloud computing offers several models:
- Software as a Service (SaaS) – Providing an application that clients can access through the internet allowing software to be treated much like we do electricity – a service that they plug into and pay for monthly offering CRM, HR applications, and sales force automation.
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – Offering on-demand, elastic cloud service for provisioning physical servers, storage and other hardware-centric IT assets as an Internet-based service (i.e. Amazon’s ECS & S3 and AT&T’s Synaptic Hosting).
- Platform as a Service (PaaS) – is a combination of an underlying IaaS offering with a specific application stack, application programming interfaces (APIs) and other tools, all offered as a service, for developing and deploying enterprise servers and applications in a cloud.
- Communication as a Service (CaaS) – Utility-like model for communications which can offer the enterprise user rich features such as desktop call control, presence, unified messaging, desktop faxing and contact center automation that includes IVR, ACD, call recording, multimedia routing (e-mail and text chat), and screen pop integration.
- Utility computing – Where storage and server computing power available when required
- Web and Platform Services – Providing a platform where developers can create applications that can be accessed by clients through the internet. Instead of using your own server infrastructure, you use these remote servers. Microsoft’s Azure platform provides just such an environment.
Why use cloud computing?
Put simply, in much the same way that national electric grids enable homes and businesses to plug into a centrally managed, efficient, and cost-effective energy source, cloud computing enables businesses to obtain flexible, secure, and cost-effective IT infrastructure from a vendor experienced in running large-scale networks and computing environments. When companies were freed from having to create their own electricity, they were able to focus on the core competencies of their line of business and the needs of their customers. Likewise, cloud computing liberates IT organizations from having to devote precious people and budget to activities which don’t directly contribute to their bottom line, while still enabling them to obtain the necessary infrastructure functionality to continue to run their businesses.
How do I prepare for the cloud?
- Examine your security and compliance needs to evaluate what I.T. MUST be owned and kept on-premise.
- Create due diligence check lists for any cloud providers that you are considering working with including but not limited to the physical and technical security of the cloud provider.
- Make sure that you have adequate bandwidth.
- Before making any capital investments in I.T., perform a cost-benefit analysis of Cloud alternatives.
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