One of the most fascinating aspects of cloud computing is the autonomy it offers. Though it has been with us, not for long, it is undisputable it has proven to be a vital commercial and SME success catalyst and hopefully will continue for the next decades. Clouds are of interest not only with expanding tendency to outsource IT to cut on management overheads but also to widen existing limited IT infrastructures. Even more notably, they reduce the entrance barrier for new players to deliver their respective goods and services to a wider market with minimal entry and exit costs and infrastructure. The lack of a term or volume commitments, pay-as-you-go pricing model, and unrestricted entry and exit seem to offer a license to behave impulsively. Tempting as it may be to shift deployment to the cloud, IT manager realize that their business depend on thoughtful planning. The low entry barrier may bait organizations into trying them all, placing different workloads with different vendors. Although this is the case, organizations using this approach often realize when it is too late that the strategy creates more problems than it solves. Cloud computing is essential when organizations needs tally with the providers offerings. In this paper, and as a system architect at ABC incorporated, I take the opportunity to examine cloud computing as the next-generation offering that will catapult businesses into profitability and success.
Various works have been conducted about cloud computing. Since it is a new technology various authors have come up to explore its advantages, disadvantages, adoption techniques and inhibiting factors. According to Han (2010), cloud computing will change how organizations will manage their computing needs. Since it is a Service Oriented Architecture, it is founded on service delivery over product development orientation. Cloud computing has all the characteristics of SOA. SOA is a service offering that benefits organizations but can cause various challenges in implementation and management. According to the author, for SOA and like technologies to be deployed successfully in an organization, some determining factors must be analyzed sufficiently. These include the needs of the business and its IT alignments. Han noted that proper deployment of cloud computing will derive economies of scale for an organization.
Erl, (2012) defines cloud computing as a set of methodologies for development and deployment of interoperable software applications and services over the Internet. According to the author, cloud computing was conceived from service oriented paradigms and has been defined as the offering of computer software in the form of applications. Service computing plays a crucial role in service automation of business logic as distributed systems. This explanation is supported by Arsanjani et al (2004) who states that service oriented architectures is a design style that support loosely coupled applications to permit organizations flexibility in interoperating in a technology-agostic manner. Arsanjani posits that SOA contains a set of business-aligned services. These services promote flexibility as well as dynamic rearrangement of end-to-end business processes using service descriptions based at the interface. This means that organizations can change their models to offer services rather than products.
Accenture (2012) describes cloud computing and SOA as a series of offerings that bring numerous benefits over traditional product-based business solutions. Through cloud computing, organizations can derive agile business development processes, cost reduction and Return on Investment. SOA gives an organization a competitive edge because they have the ability to, rapidly, respond to new business functions, developing competitive capacities in the process and leveraging existing applications for improved services. Cloud computing enable organizations to reuse existing assets without the need for massive investments in a new set of infrastructure in case of the need to scale up, consequently driving down the cost of application development, operation and management. When a business can maintain low maintenance, integration costs, and flexibility in dealing with dynamic business demands, it realizes return on investments.
Ganesh (2007) has examined the advantages of cloud computing. Some of the advantages of cloud computing include the fact that presents shorter parts to the market since organizations only need to hire the services they require from the providers. The second advantage is that of scalability; they can scale up or down without significant infrastructural changes and investments. Also, there are standardized skills in the management of cloud services. With cloud computing, there is a maximum security since providers are experienced and have infrastructural might to secure client services.
NIST (2011) defines cloud computing as a pervasive, convenient and on-demand service offering that provide a pool of resources that can be easily provisioned and released according to the needs of the user. Armbrust (2009) simplifies this definition to a culmination of services delivered over the internet and hosted by provides hardware and software systems located in data centres. The services are termed as software as a service whiles the hardware and software supporting the provision re referred as the clouds. The author posits that cloud computing is a combination of utility computing and software-as-a-service.
Bansal (2013) examines the platforms under which cloud computing is provided. They are dividing into three infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service, and software-as-a-service. Platform-as-a-service is responsible for the provision of computing solution stack that engulfs the operating systems, databases, programming environment and web servers. Programmers and designers can run their application in the cloud without the need for physical hosting infrastructure. This accords them flexibility and simplified development platform without incurring extra costs. IaaS refers to the provision of computer systems, storage devices, load balancers, firewalls and network on demand to support the massive pool or resources.
Finally, SaaS provides the installations and operation applications necessary for accessing software from the clouds. Since cloud users do not control the cloud platform, they should be able to access the applications and software required for their use.
Cloud computing can be offered in four main types. These include private clouds, public clouds, community clouds and hybrid clouds. Private clouds are developed for an exclusive group of trusted users that uses a single tenant operating environment. An example of this offering is an organizations datacentre that provides services to employees or users in remote locations. The services are designed to fit their demands and access privileges are restricted to them alone. This defines private cloud computing. Though the user can access the pool of resources necessary for their operations, they are not located in their proximity.
Public clouds are an opposite of private clouds. Services and resources in public clouds are provided to organizations who do not which to invest in an in-house hosting. A subscriber will access the services via the internet. Examples of this offering are Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Simple Storage Services S3 and Simple DB.
Community clouds are a development by a group of people pursuing a common objective. NIST defines community clouds as an infrastructure shared by several organizations in a community with specific shared concerns. It is a subset of public clouds that are tailored to perform a function in government, healthcare, finance, and educational industries. A healthcare community cloud, for instance, could be carved out to provide specific activities such as regulatory requirements that are compliant with HIPAA.
Finally, hybrid clouds are a combination of any of the two cloud options discussed above. It involves the provision of some services in-house while other are provided externally. For instance, an organization using a public cloud such as Amazon’s S3 for archiving data but continue to maintain in-house hosting for storage of operational data is termed hybrid. Hybrid solutions allow businesses to leverage scalability and cost-effectiveness of public clouds. At the same time, they control critical application necessary for mission critical operations and data for third parties. An effective hybrid deployment should consider configuration management, fault management, security, budgeting and change control as the determinants for effective operations.
BENEFITS OF CLOUDS TO CORPORATE IT
As noted, cloud computing provides measured, on-demand elastic and scalable broad network access to a centralized pool of resources. The resources can be accessed from any location at any time through the web. Data and software are stored in the servers and accessed as demanded by the user. It ubiquitous nature makes it a favourable solution for small and medium businesses with limited infrastructural might. The need to be located proximal to the hardware is eliminated meaning that the application is available on a global context. The cloud provider takes care of the cloud hardware, maintenance, updating of software and general maintenance while the tenant enjoy the services offered on a leased basis.
The first benefit derived from cloud computing is cost effectiveness. Cloud computing offer business large or small cost cuttings associated with management of IT infrastructure. This is suitable for small and mediums enterprises at the inception stage since they do not have to worry about massive infrastructural requirements in the form of hardware. Such organizations only rent a portion of the cloud equivalent to their needs. Users in the clouds pay as they go meaning that the only costs are per-use expenses. Maintenance costs are eliminated as it is taken care by the provider.
The second benefit is technical expertise provided by cloud providers. Since providers make cloud computing their sole business, they have sufficient parameters to provide the best services, support and diagnostics. This contrasts in-house hosting where businesses struggling between supporting IT and offering mainstream business activity. There are numerous concerns with IT in an organization including installation, support and maintenance, updating, upgrading and security troubleshooting. When these activities are delegated to cloud providers, an organization can focus on mainstream business offering and deliver quality to consumers. Cloud computing comes as a relief to small businesses who do not have the expertise and resources to manage their IT functions sufficiently.
Cloud providers provide flexible platforms to scale up or down depending on the needs of the organization. This feature is restricted in in-house hosting scenarios and is only possible with massive architectural, financial and personnel investments. Clouds provide an easy way to change the business to suit industry demands. A call away to the provider is all that is needed to change the amount of service required.
Lastly, cloud computing is available on a virtually all devices including mobile phone. Since most mobile devices support internet, business activities can be carried out at the least via mobile phones. This pervasive nature is what differentiates next- generation technologies from conventional systems.
Over the course of the business, corporate realizes the additional benefits derived from the use of cloud computing. One of the non-mainstream benefits is flexibility in getting to new businesses. Usually, corporate are held back from pursuing new ideas by time and money. Testing and configuring a new product line is difficult in conventional in-hosting and require sufficient planning and resources. However, with available on-demand clouds services, new configurations can be set up and running within remarkably short periods usually minutes or seconds. This saves time. Also, services are payable as a factor of time spend in the cloud. This reduces the money required. On-demand cloud computing provide a platform for large organizations to try new ventures without over investing in them.
Second, clouds provide smoother mergers and acquisitions. The greatest sticking point of mergers and acquisitions is the long durations of time required to consolidating data and records together. Organizations have employed personnel to manually code information from one system to another taking a lot of time. Although this is the case, with systems in the cloud, the transition is far much faster. End-users in the conjoined organizations can easily access cloud-based systems.
Cloud services provide corporate with the ability to duplicate ort adopt successful business processes that others have shelved. The development of cloud services was done with homogenization and lowest common denominator in mind. Because they are based on collective learning and constant input from users, new entrants find refined processes, formulas and interfaces that have been proven and well tested to deliver the best business results.
Cloud computing is also praised for upping tech savvy skills of the executive team. In the era of hyper-competitive global economy, organizations that leverage the latest technology emerge the leaders in the industry. To get there, the leadership and guidance of CIOs and CTOs is paramount. Executives do not want to spend their time overseeing the maintenance of in-house IT systems. Rather, they should rather be spending that time thinking and acting strategically for the sake of business growth. Cloud computing frees IT executives from unnecessary activities of managing in-house infrastructure. Instead, they are delegated to the responsibility of providing insights on the latest technology, be it the corporate datacentre or outside service provider.
Finally, organizations are segueing into the cloud business because of previous cloud establishments. Currently, many organizations are building private clouds using technologies such as VMware and Openstack- establishing online services that can be accessed by internal and external users. Organizations using third party cloud-hosted services are incorporating those services into their own offerings, as a result, satisfying their customers and partners on the go. Examples are UPS and FedEX who provide tracking and logistic applications to outside customers from their massive data centres. There is a chance of developing excess corporate compute cycles in this way.
In conclusion, it can be argued that cloud computing is the best technological offering of this century. For this case, the corporate can leverage to ensure growth, and better service offerings. This paper has sufficiently outlined the widely acknowledged benefits as well as non-mainstream benefits derived as the business continues its operations inside the clouds.
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