Cloud Computing, Cloud Services, and Cloud Technology - .Seems everyone is talking about the Cloud these days. Cloud Computing, Virtualization and On-Demand Services are increasingly common terms being used to describe the framework from which next generation services are being offered. Many organizations are claiming market leadership in these areas, yet the technology they represent has existed for some time so what is all of the fuss about?
To challenge the concept of “Cloud” we first need to establish what we define as Cloud Computing. Wikipedia refers to Cloud Computing as “Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software and information are provided to computers and other devices on-demand like electricity.” A Technology vendor highlights Cloud Computing as “ … the Internet and the use of Web browser-based or rich client applications. In these applications, the software comes from the Web Servers, and the data may be saved on the servers as well”. Now I can see you sitting there reading this thinking yes, that makes sense, my software and information is stored in the network of the Internet or at my work intranet ... right? Now think back to your first Hotmail/Yahoo account or the first time you posted information onto a newsfeed for others to “Share” weather that be images, data or sharing ideas, so what date are you at? 1995? 1993? Earlier … so does this mean we are talking about a “New” technology which has actually already existed in some form for close to 20 years?
I would challenge that Cloud Computing is actually a combination of a fabulous Marketing campaign for the industry to revive the hosting business - which had started to slow down - combined with the acceleration of the spectrum of services that can be hosted in a network, There is no arguing that the services available to us in the Internet and our corporate intranets are broader than anything we have ever seen, however this is merely an evolution of technology and our smart software. However we have had access to applications in the “Cloud” for a long time already.
OK, yes, I can hear those Cloud Computing evangelists shouting “What we have now is nothing like what was available before!” There is the argument of Virtualization, Applications on Demand, storage to shape with your needs of now and not just yesterday or tomorrow. However I would challenge what were we doing with those online email accounts, did you really know where yours was stored? Honestly? Virtualization is a great step forward and is providing businesses with significant benefits in looking at more scalable IT Models to support the needs of their business at any given point in time anywhere around the world. But do we really need to wrap it all up in Cloud Computing as if someone sitting in their Garage simply shouted “Eureka! I’ve done it … world meet Cloud Computing” If this was so amazingly unique how did more than 8 providers able to launch Cloud Computing Solutions in the space of a year?
What I am trying to get to is we need to acknowledge these developments, but ensure we keep our feet on the ground and realize they are just that, developments of technology which has evolved over many years. So let’s get back to basics, Businesses should consider how they can create agile working environments from the software communications, processes and database systems through to the rapid deployment of IT infrastructure in line with their business needs anywhere around the world. The Integration of Network, IT and Hosting Infrastructure through tools such as Virtualization, Agile working policies and processes hosted in the data centre can offer exciting opportunities for Businesses. However those opportunities can only be realized when we acknowledge the illusion of Cloud Computing being merely a marketing term and not a specific technology solution. Virtualization, Hosting and Business Outsourcing can be the foundation elements to the business integration moving forward, but must be treated with respect, we are past traditional outsourcing and businesses should not consider that a “Cloud” solution will be provided to them simply because they have over their network and IT responsibilities to a Systems Integrator or a Service Provider. To end let me send a message to all business out there … Wake Up! Make sure you know what you are getting behind the veil of cloud computing, how will it impact the way your employees work, the efficiency of your processes and finally and most importantly the success of your business?