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Understanding cloud opportunities, challenges

Posted: 10 Nov 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:cloud computing? data center? server hosting? virtualization?

The cloud is the next natural step for the industry because it enables the end user to simplify the typically complex nature of working with IT. The ability of the cloud to solve the challenge of allowing end users to fully leverage the benefits of technology while lowering costs to the business is a game changer. It is the one that all of IT needs to be aware of in order to not only prosper but to survive. IT staffing will need to grow, but the new opportunities may be at cloud providers and not at end-user companies.

Breaking IT dependence to solve a business problem
The biggest change the cloud provides is that the end user or the consumer can now simply select the type of IT service they want much in the same way you might purchase a book from Amazon.com. Whether it is a wiki, e-mail, or custom program, the end user does not have to worry about involving IT to scope the hardware and maintenance needs, allowing for focus on the business problem being solved.

In this report
??How cloud computing started
??What drives the cloud
??Breaking IT dependence to solve a business problem
??Virtualization enables the cloud
??Accelerating development, delivery of new apps
??Private vs. public cloud computing
??Which cloud vendors will rise to the top?
??Yes, there are risks
??The risks are worthwhile
??Will Microsoft, Google be the 1k-pound gorillas of the cloud?

The innovation of the cloud opens a market where neither the end user nor the business needs to be dependent on a specialized and trained IT department or on a specific vendor. Cloud services are easily outsourced to cloud providers, reducing the business costs associated with maintenance, data centers, servers, compliance, backup and recovery, security, patching, virus protection, configuration management, bandwidth and on-site support. Instead of a business locally hosting servers in a controlled server room where their capacity is often not fully used, the cloud provider can reduce the total server count and related support costs.

After choosing a cloud provider, the end user no longer has to worry about lining up IT to scope the hardware needs, buy servers, or set up a Web server and database. There is also no need to provide the on-going maintenance such as patching, security, backup and recovery, and product upgrades that on-site servers require.

The cloud simplifies legacy client/server systems in stable production by consolidating the use of servers not operating to full capacity. It can help internal departments, like Human Resources (HR), and it can roll out software tools (such as employee review software) without the need for internal IT involvement and allow an HR team to own the entire process. The only consideration for the business is to ensure that the selected vendor has valid security processes and to keep an ongoing watch to assure that the security is managed. This makes the cloud as much or more of a revolution than the PC or the Internet, and it is nearly as profound as the computer itself.

Virtualization enables the cloud
Virtualization provides the foundation for servers-on-demand by implementing an online operating system that is required for all other operating systems to run on the cloud. Virtualization also enables the cloud to rapidly create server space based on end-user demand. It does this by simply running a new instance of an operating system on an existing server. Virtualization through the cloud creates a model by which servers become services and the underlying operation system is no longer a factor in how quickly or easily a new server can be provisioned.


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