Every once in a while, I’ll do a news search for ‘cloud computing.’ Yesterday was one of those days and while there are always a few stories about ‘the cloud,’ I was somewhat amazed by the number and range of topics that appeared. Also, the most recent issue (Oct 2011) of Consumer Reports had an article about ‘what’s the cloud.’ It was fairly elementary but for some reason when something is covered in Consumer Reports, I tend to think it’s finally reaching the masses. I’m glad they included, ‘Use caution when signing up for any cloud service. Make sure your information is well protected against cyber thieves. The company you're using should encrypt sensitive data and have state-of-the art privacy safeguards. And use strong passwords—a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols in a minimum of six characters’ Yes, we love encryption.
And to the search results.
With the economy still sputtering along, Forbes had an article talking about how Cloud Computing May be a Shot in the Arm our Economy Needs. On demand applications, pay-as-you-go and agility were common themes, as they have been for a couple years. The author talks about the fear of ‘hollow corporations,’ or those that do not produce and good or services but simply act as middle-men – brokers of services. However, these services are coming from the cloud, delivered via technology from the provider to the consumer. They are not really ‘hollow’ but what is called, ‘loosely coupled’ corporations. How a system or entity can do fine on it’s own, but when coupled with other systems, that’s when the fireworks fly. These providers would simply be the aggregation point of various third-party services which are made available to the consumer on-demand. He talks about how cloud computing can blur the lines between IT consumers and providers. How traditional non-IT companies, like online retailer Amazon, is also a cloud provider and how corporations could build their own private cloud and offer those services to partners and customers. He also looks into how Cloud can get a startup going very inexpensively; how small application shops can survive by selling their innovative software in app stores; and how ‘micro-outsourcing,’ not the entire bundle but pieces of IT resources are becoming more common. He really talks about the business angle rather than cloud technology.
When the cloud first started making headlines, there was a notion due to costs and even technical knowledge, that the cloud would be perfect for small businesses. While some SMB took advantage, the big growth came when large enterprises began tinkering with cloud services, albeit with small portions of their infrastructure. Over at SmallBusinessComputing.com, an article called Cloud Computing Tips for Small Business gives small businesses some areas of focus when looking into cloud services. Things like software management, data storage and IaaS as a potential area for investigation for those with equipment like servers that may be nearing end of life. Avoid that onsite upgrade, especially for storage. Security is certainly another area not only for small business but all companies that consider cloud. The cloud can give small businesses (and their customers) that round-the-clock feeling of a large enterprise. Of course, plan and budget wisely, according to the article.
We knew it was happening and CIO has an article about How Cloud Computing Is Changing Data Center Designs and Costs. Interesting look at how cloud computing is driving data center design. Formally, the cloud advantage relied on efficient use of current data center design patterns and now the cost basis of data centers is transforming by the creation of new data center designs focused on scale, efficiency and commodity components. They are becoming mass scale computing environments rather than raised floor cages housing individual company servers. Cost is a big topic of this article.
Of all the IT services that could benefit from cloud computing, email was always considered a great contender. Jumping on a Gartner report which says Gmail Now Credible Rival to Microsoft Exchange, a bunch of folks wrote about the implications of cloud email. While still only around 4% of the total enterprise email market, Gartner expects it to grow to 20% by 2016 and 55% market share by 2020. Still a way off and lots can happen but certainly a trend to follow. Financial institutions, who may require greater security and other features may not be so quick to adopt, but others are signing up rapidly. One way to transition is to have a hybrid of cloud and on-premise inboxes.
Public? Private? Oh, no…it’s Hybrid Cloud to the rescue. Yes Public is growing fast; yes, companies feel more comfortable with Private; but Hybrid might be the best of both worlds. The ability to balance workloads, move peak traffic, outsource less critical apps, adhere to SLAs and overall agility is making Hybrids very attractive to those looking to cloud computing.
On any given day a ‘cloud computing’ search can give varying results depending on the hot topics, this time it seemed to return a cornucopia of stories covering a wide section of topics. And now I’m caught up….until tomorrow.