Cloud Computing: Is It The Wave Of The Future Or Just A Passing Fad?
Look at me; I’m trendy
Cloud computing in a nutshell is rather easy to understand. Anything that is delivered to an end user from one hosted service over the Internet is a form of cloud computing. There are three main types: IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. Without boring you with the over-techie end of it all, they are infrastructure-, platform- and software-based. These break down to more complex meanings, but you will sound like you know what you’re talking about if you toss out those fancy letter groupings.
Fad: trimming the fat
For those of you that remember the dotcom craze, it seemed like everyone could get rich overnight. Then the bubble burst, and it all crashed in on itself. To some degree cloud computing is in a very similar situation, right now. Some of the biggest names on the Internet are now deploying some form of cloud computing. Amazon, HP, Intel, IBM, Google, Facebook and Twitter are a few that lead the pack, and there are numerous smaller services popping up too. Does that mean the whole thing is going to crash? Everything has its ups and downs. Cloud computing is still in its infancy with new technologies being made available almost every day that can be used with it. As with any business, however, there are going to be some that stick around and some that will not.
What’s now, and what’s not?
From the public standpoint, cloud computing is rather large. Many people are now using cloud computing for two things. The first of these is storage – everything from MP3s to photos. The general public has found cloud computing to be their universal external hard drive. Give someone the URL and they have complete access to someone else’s information, music, etc. But in the business world, on the other hand, many organizations are taking the opportunity to handle their current workloads and even expand. The cloud gives employees the ability to work from outside of the four walls of the corporate office without missing a beat. Granted, this is a simplistic form of what is currently the capability of cloud computing, but 112 billion dollars are forecasted to be spent on cloud computing in 2012, a large 15% increase over 2011. So, where is that money going?
Money drain or money well spent?
Most of the information that is stored on cloud computers is from the private sector (24%), and that number is slated to grow to 33% over the next 18 months. It is believed that most IT budgets allocate more than a third of their total amount to cloud computing. From the business side, many of the prime players involved with cloud computing believe that budgets will increase even more, and that the money will be well spent as business itself and the manner in which it is conducted becomes reshaped around cloud computing.
Surveys taken from small and mid-sized businesses show that most are not worried about the cost of using or setting up for the cloud. It is the ability to keep data secure and end users’ privacy safe that are the major concerns. So, this is where a large part of the cost is incurred, but is the return on investment worth it? More data can be stored on private computer systems, and the systems in place are increasingly automated, so the worry of keeping twenty computers up-to-date goes out the window when only the hosting computer needs to be current. Increased flexibility and mobility, as well as the ability to give the IT department a chance to focus on day-to-day operations instead of constant server updates, are all important.
Every company, whether large or small, will find their own use and reason for cloud computing and the justification for spending money on it. The future of cloud computing is bright, but it is also a future that should be stepped into slowly and well thought rather than fast paced and poorly planned.
By Emma Joseph