Demystifying the Cloud
Believe it or not, there is a real phobia known as 'nephophobia.' I was shocked to discover that it is defined as a fear of clouds. Like any other fear, the more time you spend confronting it and educating yourself about it, the less scary it becomes. Such is the case with a different type of cloud, the business cloud.
There has been a dramatic surge of organizations taking their business applications to the cloud as fear and doubt of what the cloud can do is demystified. It is important to remember that all clouds are not created equal. Just as the nephophobes may fear clouds of various shapes and sizes, cloud applications for your business can be implemented in a number of different ways. Of course, there are also cloud vendors whose security and availability differ from others, as well as performance and features that should be considered. In a nutshell, cloud applications have numerous applications and functions that define the end-user experience; the challenge is discovering what will be most beneficial for your business.
We have identified seven important characteristics that we believe are true cloud requirements. To effectively evaluate what cloud computing can do for your office and how agile it will be for your day-to-day processes, consider the following:
- Elasticity: The ready access to vast computing resources eliminates the need for complex procurement cycles and continually purchasing more and more hardware, thus improving the time-to-value for the organization.
- Reduction of Costs: SaaS applications and the cloud changes capital expense to variable expense and lower operating costs (CAPEX vs. OPEX). The utility-based pricing model of the cloud combined with its on-demand access to resources eliminates the needs for capital investments in IT infrastructure.
- Reduction of Heavy IT Lifting: The cloud allows IT to focus on delivering differentiating business value instead of wasting valuable resources on the heavy lifting that makes most of the undifferentiating IT infrastructure. IT's focus shifts to the users' requirements. Focus can be applied to innovation in how to apply cloud-based services within the needs of the organization.
- Competitive Advantage: Cloud computing levels the playing field for organizations to remain competitively viable and better service the larger clients who have themselves world-class IT infrastructures (or in fact use the Cloud)—without the pressures of continued purchases of upfront capital requirements. Cloud computing also gives smaller organizations a chance to play on a more level playing field with the larger organizations, and it helps these large organizations cut costs and trim technology needed to compete on a more personal level with clients, and have the agility typical of the smaller organizations.
- Business Continuity:There may be no single benefit to migrate to the Cloud more important than the simple need to ensure that data is protected and secured from disaster. Being seen as a resilient organization represents a competitive advantage in dealing with clients and should so increase the expected return. With cloud computing, even small organizations can put a plan in place to ensure they are able to continue their business in the face of a natural or man-made disaster.
- Mobility: The combination of an organizations' need to have technology mobile and available, and the cloud infrastructure to support them, has the potential to transform the way organizations work, collaboration, innovate, and operate around their work product.
- Additional Services: Cloud service providers can offer services that an IT department wouldn't be able to afford, like added security measures, redundancy, global Internet accelerators and bandwidth, and experienced support staff. Depending on the actual application being hosted in the cloud or delivered via a SaaS model will determine what extra features and functionality are wrapped into the solution.