The Cloud is a buzz word that is synonymous with many types of services: Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service, and Infrastructure as a Service. SaaS offers end-user applications. Platform as a Service is an application component offering from providers. Infrastructure as a Service is also known as utility computing. The reason is that applications are built by developers from scratch. These applications are then run in a virtual environment. As more computing power is used, more virtual machines are provided as needed.
Executives mistakenly look at an enterprise cloud strategy as a way to cut IT costs, when they should be considering how the cloud would improve delivery of products and services.
The initial steps for planning an effective cloud strategy in the enterprise are at a higher level. The steps are:
- Aligning a cloud strategy to fit corporate strategy
- Creating a strategic plan for a cloud architecture
- Choosing between implementing the cloud in-house or outsourced.
Going through the steps provides flexibility in a cloud computing plan, by accounting for changing business conditions. It is a more valuable exercise than one that simply plans for the short-term. Considering the cost savings of outsourcing IT services from the cloud is an example of short-term planning.
Planning for cloud architecture would include identifying and the minimizing the risks of downtime. Downtime is one of the risks of the cloud. For example, an outage at Amazon’s AWS (Amazon Web Services) that took down Reddit, Foursquare, and Heroku in May 2011. By creating redundancy in the cloud architecture, the risks of a similar outage to the business would be lessened.
What is Driving Cloud Adoption?
Cloud Adoption is happening.
Cloud providers increased from 0 personnel in 2007 to 500,000 in 2010.
Last year, Sony suffered a devastating attack from a hacker. Sony data centres were attacked by an intruder, compromising millions of personal and credit card information. Despite elevated risks in storing personal data in the cloud, the sector still thrives. Security concerns are not slowing the adoption of the cloud. In 2010, Mimecast found that 57 percent of its respondents improved their security with cloud computing. Tools exist to encrypt the storage transfer of data between a host system and the cloud.
SAP last week announced that it acquired Ariba. SAP wanted to “consolidate all cloud-related supplier assets.” SAP gains a solid customer base from this acquisition. Ariba’s network connects half of the Fortune 500 companies.
Gartner thinks the PC will be replaced by the personal cloud by 2014. Cloud service offerings are growing at a rate that supports Gartner’s prediction. Dropbox, Google Play, Microsoft SkyDrive, and Apple’s iCloud are some of the services that would make this possible.
The above situations illustrate Cloud growth. Cloud adoption is being driven by so many things. The biggest drivers of cloud adoption are:
- Consumerization: Technology-savvy users are driving internet and social media growth
- Virtualization by corporations (refer to the growth of VM Ware or Citrix in the last few years)
- Mobile device growth
- Mobile app growth
- Convenience of data being available everywhere
Looking Beyond the Cloud
Interest in the cloud peaked in June 2011, based on user word searches for “the cloud” and “cloud computing” on Google. This could suggest another computing model could eventually replace the Cloud, but this is unlikely. The lower interest might just mean the hype for the cloud is waning. Besides, there are plenty of other hyped technologies: Virtualization, Big Data, hybrid cloud computing, and public/private clouds. The thing is, these other technologies only serve to validate the importance of the Cloud now and in the future.