As cloud computing has gained momentum over the last several years, it has become less of a possible passing IT fad, and more of a viable means of managing business applications cheaper and faster by leveraging the cloud to reduce costs and increase speed and scalability.
The term “cloud” has been in use for decades by the telephony companies who used an image of a cloud to represent the telephone network. In an attempt to utilize their bandwidth more effectively, telephony companies began offering VPN services which allowed them to balance traffic based on usage. This network structure was represented with the image of a cloud.
Today, cloud computing follows a similar philosophy on a grander scale. Although some have tried to use the term “cloud” synonymously with the internet, and others have referred to it as another form of software-as-a-service (SAAS), the cloud can offer these services and much more. In its simplest form, it is a real-time, subscription-based service used to enhance IT capabilities.
Whether you need applications, services, storage or infrastructure, cloud computing providers such as the Brookfield Group, enable rapid deployment, cost savings, and scalability. Some of the components found in the cloud include:
1. Software-as-a-service (SAAS): Provides web-based applications to clients, thus eliminating the cost of software licensing, servers and hosting, upgrading and maintenance, and other requirements.
2. Web services: Provides APIs that enable clients to enhance their websites and web-based services. You may already be using web services in the cloud such as Google Map’s API.
3. Platform-as-a-service (PAAS): PAAS enables clients to build their own application and distribute it to their own users via the cloud.
4. Managed services: Providers manage their clients with a set of scalable IT services for a subscription fee. Examples include anti-spam, anti-virus, virus scanning for email, and a variety of other services.
5. Utility computing: Similar to the telephone network, utility computing offers a package of IT resources such as storage and virtual servers and typically charges for these services based on usage.
As cloud computing continues to grow, providers continue to develop new services and components. The basis for the cloud computing, however, remains the same – from rapid deployment of services to reduced costs, the cloud has begun to change the IT scene by offering businesses the ability to operate their IT systems more efficiently.
The advantages include:
1. Ability to rapidly deploy services
2. Reduction of costs and capital expenditures – the cloud reduces hardware, software, licensing, maintenance, administrative and other costs.
3. Scalability – easily expand or reduce services to fit your business needs.
4. Disaster recovery – your information is protected and backed up in the cloud.
5. Web-based access – The cloud is location and device independent which allows users to access systems via any web browser or device.
6. Maintenance – Because cloud services and applications run “in the cloud” and are not installed on individual computers, office computers are easier to manage. Updates to cloud services and applications can be done in one location and accessed instantly.
7. ROI – Most cloud computing vendors provide cloud access on a metered basis which enables clients to quickly measure their return on investment (ROI) in comparison to traditional systems and manage their usage more effectively.
For more information on cloud computing, the following resources are available: