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The Era of Cloud Computing

Posted on February, Wednesday 06, 2013 By Jalaj Roy Choudhury

By: Zafar Saeed,VP, Product & Service Delivery, Albion InfoTel Limited

In the last few years, cloud computing and its services have gained both interest and momentum in the business community. As IBM puts it, although cloud computing is only a different way to deliver computer resources, rather than a new technology, it has sparked a revolution in the way organizations provide information and service. There are several reasons why many businesses are considering cloud services, including lower capital expenses, lower maintenance costs, dynamic scalability, going green, better utilization of human and computer resources and more. There are also several reasons why businesses are hesitant about utilizing cloud services, the primary being concerns over security and privacy.

Cloud Computing and Business Value

Cloud computing, at least on the fundamental level, is almost as easy as flipping a switch. Companies can sign up, flip a switch, and they're up and running with zero upfront investment. Are they going to invest nearly as much attention on governing these processes? Given that the ROI in both cases is the same (your organization's future growth), they should be treated the same, but that isn't usually the case. One of the factors that appeals to consumers of cloud computing services is the benefit of variable costs. With a variable cost basis, organizations can take more risks. If cloud computing or a particular project that uses cloud services doesn't work out, they can close the relationship/unsubscribe from the service at any time. It's a lot less risky than investing in capital and acquiring infrastructure or licenses and having to keep them, when they are no longer needed. Consider a team within an organization that needs powerful infrastructure for a POC (Proof-Of-Concept)

Types of cloud service delivery models and their uses

•    The Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is used to offer storage and compute resources that IT developers and organizations utilizes to deliver custom business solutions.

•    The Platform as a Service (PaaS) is used to offer development environments that IT organizations can utilizes to construct cloud-ready business applications.

•    The Software as a Service (SaaS) is used to offer purpose-built business applications.

Above mentioned three major categories can be subcategorized to be more specific:

* Storage as a Service

* Database as a Service

* Information as a Service

* Application as a Service

* Integration as a Service

* Security as a Service

* Testing as a Service

Steps to Successful Adoption of Cloud

The cloud has taken much of the world by storm, although there are still valid concerns over security and valid questions over even its cost saving benefits. Cloud computing may sound like the next best thing since sliced bread, and perhaps it could be just right for you. But don't dive in without doing your homework, unless the risk is so small that you don't really care.

Strategy: Does your cloud strategy align business needs/goals with IT capabilities?

Process: Are your processes streamlined and automated to support cloud computing?

Skills: Is your staff skilled and trained to support cloud adoption in your organization?

Architecture: What should you be aware of when architecting and deploying infrastructure for cloud?

Alignment: What is needed to ensure accountability and policy follow-through for stakeholder collaboration?

Cloud Security Concerns

While several companies have jumped on the cloud computing bandwagon, there have been several concerns voiced against cloud computing. These concerns are mostly in the areas of security and privacy. However there is also a positive side of security & privacy while moving to cloud. As an example, it is a well known fact that IT administrators are one of the weakest links in any organization as far as security is concerned. They are always a soft target to be trapped in social engineering that resulted in frauds. In lack of security controls there are numerous occasions where an insider IT personal found involved in malicious activities. In that kind of scenarios cloud could be a safe bid for businesses. An interesting research released by Microsoft indicates that 35 percent of U.S. companies surveyed have experienced noticeably higher levels of security since moving to the cloud. In addition, 32 percent say they spend less time worrying about the threat of cyber attacks. U.S. SMBs using the cloud also spend 32 percent less time each week managing security than companies not using the cloud. They are also five times more likely to have reduced what they spend on managing security as a percentage of overall IT budget.

There could be different expert opinions related to this new trend. Some of them call it future of IT services and some are of opinion that buzz around cloud computing is nothing but just an over-hype. It could be anything but all surveys and researches are indicating that enterprises have started at least thinking about adopting it in some form or other and from IT service providers’ purview, no one of them wants to miss this dollar opportunity.

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