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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?

Looking at the rapid growth of smartphones, you see devices where the applications are not tied to the browser but instead are tied to the underlying operating system. Netbooks will run a phone operating system or Windows, and virtualization is the key to managing all these mobile devices in a practical manner. This would indicate that in the future there will be more operating systems not less, but they will allow the end user to do more, increasing efficiency, productivity, and cost effectiveness via a virtual desktop.

As organizations look to further "green" IT initiatives, another advantage of virtualization in the cloud is the fact that a virtual server can be running Microsoft, Linux, or other operating systems on the same physical hardware, enabling low utilization servers to be paired with high utilization servers, thus providing significant savings in energy costs.

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?

Other benefits to virtualization in the cloud are the ability to constantly rebalance servers as their usage spikes and drops and to quickly perform disaster recovery by moving images from one data center to another and quickly restoring the images on new hardware when current hardware fails.

The cloud is designed to provide IT customers with a simple, flexible, and scalable value proposition. Virtualization provides additional benefits that allow IT organizations to truly leverage the level of optimization that cloud computing promises.

Services such as e-mail, wikis, Web sites, file storage, antivirus (AV), SharePoint, and so on are now available through user interfaces like Windows, a netbook, or a mobile device. This is accomplished using virtual desktops that further provide operational quality and experience for the end user and the business.

Accelerating development, delivery of new apps
Another example of how the cloud creates greater efficiency within a business is a software development group that wants to create a new software application for either internal or external customers. By leveraging a cloud provider, they can have immediate access to a complete server development environment.

With modern cloud database technologies, the data is stored in efficient, redundant locations, all with no need for IT. Servers are tuned and kept up to date by the cloud provider, so no further resources need to be allocated. During the load testing phase, the group can use the cloud to run hundreds of clients, and after the testing is completed, the servers are freed up to be used in other capacities. This model is financially efficient as servers are set up instantly without the need for the business to provide space, cooling, and capital equipment.

As the newly developed software application is rolled out to end users, the cloud provider automatically scales out the back-end databases, Web servers, and reporting and analysis tools based on customer demand. Without access to a cloud-based environment, the development team would have to work with IT to estimate and purchase the equipment needed to scale for demand increases.

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