Get ready the cloud is here!
You have probable heard this more times over the past year than any other, and you are no doubt using some form of cloud computing right now whether you realize it or not. But with as many voices that are praising the cloud, just as many are preaching against it. Lack of standards and poor security seem to stand out the most when discussing the pitfalls of cloud computing, but why do so many people see this as the next technology revolution?
"…the cloud is just a baby in a vast technology ocean"
To help us understand this let's consider what the cloud really is. Most people think of the cloud as a magical place where you toss your data and applications into a cloud platform then everything works magically and plays well together. The fact is the cloud is just a baby in a vast technology ocean. But unlike other technology revolutions the cloud has some strategic advantages:
- Virtualization is the heart of cloud computing
- The cloud is based on open source
- Cloud platforms are highly scalable and can be rapidly deployed
- Cloud platforms are being developed by industry leaders such as Google, VMware, Citrix, Microsoft, Red Hat, Oracle, and many more.
The National Institution for Science and Technology (NIST) defines Cloud Computing as: "a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g. networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction"
Today's businesses are looking to reduce technology costs and still gain the technology advantage. Cloud Computing has the potential to provide this as it matures. These benefits will be seen in lower support costs for environments, rapid deployment of on-demand services, more businesses using the latest feature rich versions of software, and universal access from mobile and desktop devices. But many enterprises may find it difficult to migrate existing legacy applications into current cloud platforms as the development costs to do so will be costly and likely change entire businesses models. Still the cloud has its place in the industry and is making its mark slowly by introducing services that most companies can look at today. Data storage and hosted email are excellent technologies to look at today and can immediately save companies capital expenses while providing a better service than traditional methods.
The SMB community can greatly benefit today from the cloud, as adoption and migration are much easier for them to roll out and planning does not take nearly the time as it does in an enterprise. Startups in particular are in a sweet spot to for cloud computing as they can avoid heavy upfront technology costs and take advantage of early platform development.
But as with all new technologies cloud computing should be met with a heavy level of questioning and the understanding before you implement into your business.