There is a lot of talk in the media about cloud computing. If you don’t know what it is, you should! You are most likely already using cloud-based applications.
Ever hear of Gmail? Webex? Microsoft Windows Live? YouTube? eBay? Sure you have. Those are some sites that get the idea across. Cloud Computing is using resources that exist on someone else’s computing platform to run your applications. That means that you can worry less (if you trust the host) about how much processing power, memory and storage that you have.
What’s the benefit of Cloud Computing?
There are several upsides to using applications that exist in the cloud, including:
Anywhere Access Access your applications from anyplace that has an internet connection with your equipment, or through shared access computers like those in an office or library.
Pay for What You Use Cloud-based services are provided either free (paid through some advertising) or on a pay as you use a type of model. This is great because you can easily scale up or down based on your needs. Got a new initiative that you need to roll out? Great – ramp-up quickly using someone else’s platform. Do you have an area that you want to close or change? Not so great, but at least you don’t have the sunk cost of custom hardware/software platforms to worry about.
Shared Innovation / Shared Support Software developers are heavily incented to continually improve their products. This is because the product improvements can be taken advantage of by many users at the same time since they are part of a shared platform. Since the applications are live, if some improvements or fixes are implemented then you get access to them as soon as they are enabled.
How should I prepare for Cloud Computing?
Since your data and software is being hosted elsewhere, your connection to the Internet becomes more important. You don’t want to push your applications to the cloud only to have your processing slowed by slow Internet!
Additionally, you will want to have security in place to make sure that your data gets to the cloud securely. Basic firewalls may be enough if your data isn’t sensitive, but more is required if the data must be protected. There is a new generation of application-aware security appliances available such as the ADTRAN Unified Threat Management suite of products. ( www.adtran.com ). This type of product is aware of the applications that are being worked with, and can both secure the transactions and prioritize traffic so that your business-critical applications take precedence over Facebook or YouTube!
Get on Board!
Don’t let the cloud-computing train pull out of the station without you. There is no question that this is the wave of the future. Get on board. Get familiar. Be one of the companies that leverage the technology while it is still an advantage, not just the status quo.