What is cloud computing and how will it impact your business?
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- July 18th, 2008
Cloud computing refers to the shift of ownership and maintenance of servers from individual business units to a shared and secured environment on the internet. It means a lower total cost of ownership and the ability to scale rapidly to meet demand.
Think if it like this: if you’ve got an internet connection you’ve got access to storage space and software applications limited only by your budget. Nothing to install and nothing to maintain.
How It Will Affect Your Business
According to Merrill Lynch, it is estimated to be a $100 billion market within three years time. If true, your business will:
- Own fewer servers
- License software on a monthly, per user basis rather than the more prevalent “per seat” basis
- Store data offsite rather than local hard drives
As Wiggly As Web 2.0
The term “cloud” comes from the term used to describe how various computers connect to one another over the internet. The lack of specificity in the illustration is helpful in understanding that “everything takes place on the internet.” When it comes to understanding new and emerging business services, the vaguery is frustrating, just like that evil term “Web 2.0″
Examples For Managers In a Hurry
For business managers demanding great specificity, here are some examples to get you started:
- Amazon Web Services (AWS) – on demand servers and caching infrastructure favored by start ups. Need more storage, fill out a form and it’s online in minutes.
- Microsoft Live Mesh – which went live today for public beta (just use your hotmail or live.com address to log in) wants to compete with Apple and Google.
- Google – Google and IBM are providing clusters of processors to universities for research programs. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Docs, Spreadsheets and Presentation while still “in beta” suggest a strategy broader and targeted towards business computing.
Lack of Uptime Guarantees Is A Problem
The problem with all this is the lack of reliability and uptime guarantees. When your critical data is out on the cloud and the cloud fails you’re just out of luck. As I write this Apple’s “Mobile-Me” has failed to sync my calendar and contacts for 24 hours and Basecamp (a project management site built upon Amazon’s services) died for a critical two hour window when I needed it most. In both instances I had local backup copies at the read.
Buzzword Status Score
- Hype: High
- Value: Real
- Time frame: Now, now, now!
- Caution: Control freaks will be frustrated