- Cloud â€“ Itâ€™s About Getting Things Done
- Parity of IT Access Throughout the Business World
- The Case of SÃ£o Paulo, Brazil
- Partners to Compete in the Business World
As we all know, technology moves fast. Cloud, which first started to gain prominence in 2006, has been gathering speed ever since. According to a forecast from Global Industry Analysts, Inc. (GIA), the worldwide market for cloud hardware alone will exceed $79 billion by 2018. Cloud has become so widespread behind the scenes that the vast majority of people probably have no idea how much they are relying on the technology.
Cloud â€“ Itâ€™s About Getting Things Done
Okay, so cloud is big â€“ but what exactly are we talking about here? Hereâ€™s my quick and dirty definition: itâ€™s a construct for designing a server that virtualizes the machine so that it is using immediately available resources from a distributed pool of physical computers, often thousands of them, to increase speed, reliability, and affordability.
TechTarget also talksÂ of the cloud in terms of resources: â€œCloud computing enables companies to consume computing resources as a utility â€” just like electricity â€” rather than having to build and maintain computing infrastructures in-house.â€
TechTarget adds that the cloud has three primary characteristics differentiating it from the physical, legacy, in-house architectures that it is quickly replacing:
- Self-service provisioning, allowing customers to manage and design their own systems for fast deployment
- Scalability, allowing customers to obtain more or less resources based on how much a system is being used
- Near-real-time, variable pricing, allowing customers to pay based on how much power and space they require (for instance, our cloud systems use per-second billing).
Why such a heavy emphasis on resources? Cloud Hosting is really all about delivery of resources. Who cares what else they are? There is a reason that cloud computing, despite its fluffy, physical name, is seen as incredibly boring by so many: it is the back end. Technologists may be able to discuss cloud more thoroughly and passionately, but when it comes down to it, it is fundamentally a vehicle for the functionality of the front end.
That falls in line with the philosophy ofÂ the Information Technology Infrastructure LibraryÂ (ITIL) certification: IT is essentially about delivering a service, not about establishing policy. ITIL says that IT should offer a portfolio or menu of services to get things done â€“ allowing payroll, email, lead generation, etc., to be fast and accessible. Cloud can be considered the realization of that philosophy. The IT team gets out of the way and offers up platforms, infrastructure, and software as a service, immediately available, with the power of a supercomputer.
Parity of IT Access Throughout the Business World
The accessibility of cloud also has meant that the playing field is leveled. Previously only the largest enterprises could afford to set up such absurdly powerful systems. Now, as Jennifer Hutchinson of InfoStreet puts it, you can have amazing infrastructure if you can count to five (which is hopefully a requirement for going into business).
In terms of the parity between SMBâ€™s and large corporations that this technology allows, â€œ[t]hereâ€™s much less investment and risk required to adopt and use new technology,â€ saysÂ BT business development director John Brennan. â€œ[S]ervice agreements can be adapted to a companyâ€™s size through flexible pricing models, which has given all companies equal access to the latest â€¦ tools and capabilities.â€
The Case of SÃ£o Paulo, Brazil
SÃ£o Paulo, Brazil, has been struggling with lack of water since rainfall has been much less plentiful than is historically the case. The primary water supply for the city, the Cantareira system, usually contains about 155 billion gallons of water in the summer, but now it is empty and drawing on emergency reserves.
That is a huge problem â€“ not just in terms of drinking water, plumbing, and other direct uses, but in terms of power. Much of the electricity for the city comes from hydroelectric sources: water running through huge dams keeps on the lights and runs the electronics in this massive metropolis of 20 million people.
Forget the electricity for a minute, though:Â this is truly a water emergency. People have sometimes not been able to go to work because there has not been enough water to flush the toilets. Some people are even drilling through their floors to access the water beneath their homes. SÃ£o Paulo, like any major city worldwide, is dependent on indoor plumbing. No water and business cannot continue.
Letâ€™s go back to that idea of cloud computing as resources. Just as lack of water in SÃ£o Paulo is threatening the economy and even peopleâ€™s lives, lack of IT resources has made it difficult for businesses to compete in many cases. With the cloud, says City Network CEO Johan Christenson, you essentially have your systems up and running in a snap of your fingers. â€œYour project manager sets up 15 machines over five countries in two minutes during the meeting for a new project,â€ he says. â€œCloud computing will soon be a basis for our everyday processes and without it, you will lose ground to your competitors.â€
Partners to Compete in the Business World
Water is necessary for life and business: these droughts worldwide are humanitarian crises that must be addressed. Cloud is increasingly necessary too, an essential technology for innovation and resource delivery moving forward.
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