It probably feels like everyone is talking about the move to the cloud today. It is considered one of the biggest game-changers to come along since the development of the web. And while it is true that cloud topics are top-of-mind, it doesn’t mean that the benefits and challenges for an organization are always well understood. Companies who are considering moving some of their business to the cloud need to take the time to plan and train anyone involved in the venture. A specific plan for how the implementation will proceed is critical for a successful launch. A company needs to have a very clear vision on business strategy and what gains they hope to achieve with a move to the cloud.
It all begins with a look at what the drivers for change are within your organization’s business plan and how a move to the cloud fits with these needs. With the current business climate, many enterprises are looking closely at new ways to prioritize business revenue while reducing operating costs. Of course, both of these cannot help if you are not finding ways to win over new customers.
What is Cloud Computing for You?
At its most basic, it is important for your business to understand that cloud computing is not actually a technology; it is a delivery system of services. When you pool various resources such as compute power, storage capacity and applications and have them delivered as a service, you share these resources amongst users and organizations through a cloud service provider. This gives you economy of scale and is the most common form of cloud computing, often referred to as a multi-tenancy model of cloud computing.
Your cloud service provider has built massive data centers to house this multi-tenancy cloud service and it is that massive scaling ability that makes cloud computing so cost efficient for many. It is very much like the difference between buying a bus to go to work each day versus paying your fare to use the bus to get to work. The capacity for more is there and the cost is shared by those who use it, only when they use it.
Because you only pay for what you use, cloud computing can be much more effective at controlling costs than if you were to outsource the same service. With a cloud, an enterprise uses the IT resources it needs as it needs them, pays for them based on actual usage and not a flat fee, and doesn’t pay for services it doesn’t need at the time. If you aren’t traveling on that bus one week because you are on vacation (to continue to use the bus analogy), then you don’t pay your fare that week and your monthly costs are less. In the same way, if you only need specific computation power for that end of the month analysis, you only pay for what you use. Resources that aren’t used are returned to the pool for others to use.
The Questions on Security
While the cloud can be highly cost effective, some organizations have greater concerns because of security needs. The model shown above is for what is commonly called a “public cloud” where there are multiple clients that share servers. For those that have security issues, a “private cloud” that is still accessed as needed but not shared with other enterprises can be a good alternative. A large organization with multiple locations could have a private cloud that shares resources across their own cloud, but with that cloud inside a protected premise that is more secure. Using the bus analogy, it is like having a company bus that only picks up those within the organization. Cost is shared but there are no concerns with strangers on the bus. Whether that is a true security concern or not everyone feels safer.
Some Self-Service Concerns
For a company whose IT department is often overloaded with business department requests, the “self-service” element of the cloud is very appealing. With the elimination of having to go to the IT department every time a new service is needed, smart business departments gain time to market and service transparency by simply browsing their IT department “service catalog”, configuring and adding department needs to their “shopping cart”. The monthly fee is charged back to that department and the service is implemented in a timely manner. Success in this type of service deployment is contingent on implementing proper access controls.
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