What is Cloud Computing?
Clouds are a new way of building IT infrastructures from dynamic pools of virtualized resources that are operated as low-touch IT services and are consumed in a modern, web-savvy way. Conceptually, cloud computing can be thought of as building resource abstraction and control on top of the hardware abstraction provided by virtualization.
In most cases, cloud computing infrastructures will evolve in scope and complexity over time. Functions such as elastic provisioning, metering, and self-service will often be added as the environment matures
and goes into full production. Cloud computing includes delivering services from multiple levels of the software stack. The most widely used taxonomy specifies Infrastructure-as-a-Service (e.g. compute and storage), Platform-as-a-Service (e.g. middleware and infrastructure automation), and Software-as-a-Service (applications). These levels may layer on top of each other but can also exist independently.
Cloud computing can take place either on-premises (private cloud), as a shared, multi-tenant, off-premises resource (public cloud), or some combination of the two (hybrid cloud).
Cloud computing is not just another name for virtualization. It builds on virtualization, and constructing a virtualized infrastructure will be the first step to a private cloud for many organizations. A private cloud improves efficiency, helps organizations save money, and improves service levels relative to less flexible and dynamic IT infrastructures. Public clouds offer a pay-as-you-go pricing model for computing resources that customers do not need to own or operate themselves. Clouds take many forms because different organizations or even different business units and applications within a single organization have vastly different requirements. One size doesn’t fit all.
Cloud infrastructure should support interoperability, open standards, and the ability to run existing applications in many different environments and on many different clouds. Clouds should provide flexibility for your organization and not lock you into a single solution.
What are the benefits of Cloud Computing?
Cloud Computing is helpful in multiple ways. The primary benefits are that:
- Time to market is significantly reduced.
- Overall cost savings in maintenance costs from having business-owned servers to maintain. Cloud computing services also generally have a much higher guarentee for up-time that a smaller company running its own servers usually cannot match.
- Organizations can cut software licensing and administrative costs through utilizing online services in the cloud, such as SharePoint, Exchange Server, and Office Communications Server.
How do I apply Cloud Computing technology to my business and is it a right fit for my company?
Cloud Computing is not for everyone or every company. As with any technology, it depends on the needs of the company whether or not it will be useful. For example, if your company has a large quantity of proprietary data, you would need to decide if you are comfortable placing your data and applications in a facility that you do not own or control. Cloud computing is ideal for a small to medium size business that has large spikes in infrastructure needs at varying times during the year, rather than a consistent need that in-house servers could sufficiently fulfill.