Cloud computing and cloud-based storage are two of the fastest growing technologies in enterprise IT. Conversion of the “trend” into real productivity gains, is still to be seen in real life.
Below we have pointed out 5 key areas where we believe that cloud computing will make the most impact towards realizing higher productivity and efficiency gains for the organization and the people therein.
The key foundation of a cloud solution is virtualization, be it for computing, for storage or of the underlying network. However, the real benefit on cloud comes from the software abstraction layers above the hypervisors and SAN managers which map application requirements onto the actual capabilities of pooled servers, disks, fibers, and cables. This abstraction represents the core benefit of the idea of cloud offering, ensuring that new configurations of virtual assets integrate efficiently and transparently, and that the providers are able to hold up to the ever stringent, demanding Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with the customer. In a nutshell, once the initial cloud environment is setup properly, maintenance functions become just a matter of using the management console.
2. Self Service
Self service management of the cloud services has been one of the basic ideas behind the cloud offering. End users and operational teams alike can come to such a portal to configure what kind of service they need and get it up and running in a matter of minutes instead of days. True, that in an enterprise there would be levels of approval and or human interventions to the workflow, however, the benefits of self service portal are huge in terms of cutting down the “time to market (even though its internal to an enterprise)”. The number of expert technical people required also goes down substantially.
3. Hassle Free Upgrades and Dynamic Scaling
Though Amazon seems to have run away with the term elastic, the very nature of cloud computing is to be stretchable in providing resources. Scale up when there is requirement, potentially in real time, and scale down when there is not so much happening, bringing down the costs in the process. At the same time, the upgrades to servers / components / services are simplified as well.
The efficiency of costs is not a surprise anymore, it’s a “given” feature from the cloud promise.
The premise of cloud is around data redundancy and security. In place, it solves the problem of Disaster Recovery Planning, which would align with almost any enterprise’ business continuity strategy. Cloud storage mirrors data across multiple sites, often chosen with variety of parameters.
Most of the providers also have features around failover configuration of computing instances, which would further add to the reliability of an application hosted on the cloud. With failover/High Availability (HA), whenever one of the systems goes down for some reason, the cloud infrastructure erects a new VM instance to replace that one, without customer realizing the event altogether, since the services were offered to the customer from behind one or more load balancer(s) which was routing requests to the available pool of servers.
With such configurations possible to erect using the self service portals across matter of hours if not minutes, the power of cloud is even more visible.
5. Standardizing the Enterprise IT
Cloud paradigm forces standardization, by way of virtualization and automation of services across the organization. This impacts some of the areas rather straight in the face, e.g. services like email and security, which are critical to the organization, yet can easily be classified as a regular out of the box service. Cloud business strategies add a lot of objectivity to the whole enterprise IT infrastructure, and the expenditure by forcing discussions and choices around financial, legal, procedural and standards. This in turn creates measurable objectives in requirements, traffic, SLAs and similar “service” terms. With this in place, it becomes easy to think about outsourcing complete IT blocks, allowing cost reductions, and time for genuine innovation at workplace.