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Cloud computing: technology of the future

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Cloud computing is all the rage. It’s become the phrase du jour, with every company providing IT products or services using the label as a sales pitch. As a metaphor for the Internet, “the cloud” is a familiar cliché, but when combined with “computing”, the meaning gets bigger and fuzzier.
The problem is that everyone seems to have a different definition, writes Anton van Heerden, GM, Altech ISIS.
Some analysts and vendors define cloud computing narrowly as an updated version of utility computing: basically virtual servers available over the Internet. Others go very broad, arguing that anything users consume outside the firewall is in the cloud, including conventional outsourcing. One thing the industry agrees on, however, is that cloud computing is the future of computing.
Global research company IDC predicts a five-year annual growth rate of 26%, over six times the rate of traditional IT offerings and it says 27% of the net new IT revenue in 2013 will come from IT cloud services.
The main reason for this growth is that cloud computing can help enterprises improve the creation and delivery of IT solutions by allowing them to access services more flexibly and cost-effectively.
The cloud provides IT and business process functionality, which used to be delivered through the provisioning of onsite assets, as multi-tenant utility services. Altech ISIS believes that this results in efficiencies across the board, as capital and skills are more effectively utilised and costs are reduced.
In addition, because the cloud provides a “pay-per-use” type of system, or a ”consumption model”, it offers a much shorter time to deployment – and to obtaining value.
Where cloud computing’s value proposition lies is in its ability to shift capacity on demand to capability on demand. What this means is that IT infrastructure is no longer a barrier to creating capabilities in an organisation, and that the IT and business “pool” offered by cloud providers allows companies to pay for what they want to do rather than for pieces of technology.
If users need milk, why buy the cow? The same applies to IT. Unless a company’s business is technology, it requires only access to the applications and benefits that technology enable. Cloud computing offers this type of targeting of resources.
The biggest problem in the uptake of cloud computing has been in the misunderstandings around what cloud is and what it can offer. This confusion is largely based on the different services offered by different providers, and many companies commonly mistake attributes for requirements and vice-versa.
Attributes will commonly support outcomes, where the requirements inform the outcomes businesses are looking to obtain from their technology.
In addition, the benefits that cloud service models offer are commonly mixed up. There are various cloud service options available, depending on requirements and levels of involvement.
It is therefore vital that businesses evaluate which cloud-computing models, architectures, technologies and best practices to adopt based on an analysis of how cloud computing will affect the strategy and direction of IT and the business. This is the reason that Altech ISIS offers its clients a consulting service, so as to help them choose the right solution to meet their needs.
Cloud computing is making headlines and South African businesses and organisations are starting to look for ways to integrate it into their operations.
It is inevitable that all organisations will have to eventually to be part of this shift so as to avoid another risk – losing ground to competitors that are making the move into the cloud. The network is fast becoming the computer, and cloud computing is the technology of the future.
Looking ahead, the next decade of cloud computing promises new ways to collaborate everywhere. The past few years have seen significant changes in the way enterprises are planning and building their IT infrastructure.
The ability to manage a business efficiently is crucial to the bottom line result of any business and IT services are the tools to achieve this control. Cloud computing offers the IT services of the future. Can users afford to be left behind?