Everybody seems to be excited about Cloud Computing these days. You hear about “the Cloud” just about everywhere, from television to printed ads to the Internet. It seems as if every company is moving to the cloud in some way. Why is this? What are the new benefits of cloud computing that are causing this shift? The article will examine and discuss a handful of these.
A definition of Cloud Computing
Before we dive into the benefits of using the cloud, let’s take a moment to define it.
What is the cloud? There are different iterations of it, but the simplest way to look at it is the same way one would look at a utility. It is the delivery of computing as a service, with shared resources, software, and information provided to computers and other devices over a network. The utility analogy comes in looking at it in the same way as electricity is delivered by a provider over electrical lines to homes.
The end user does not need to know about the physical location and configuration of the system that delivers the services. The only concern is having access to the services being offered.
As stated earlier, there are different iterations of the cloud. Clouds can be private, providing their services to one company and one company only. They can also be public, whereby multiple companies access the resources of the cloud through an access provider. A hybrid cloud is a combination of the public and private models, designed to allow data and application portability between the public and private portions of the cloud. Lastly, there is the community cloud, where the cloud infrastructure is shared by several organizations and the resources support a specific community.
The New Benefits
With the cloud defined, what are some of the new benefits that the cloud provides that would drive businesses to use it? While many exist, the most important ones are presented as follows:
- Lower costs. Cloud computing takes all of the computing resources that can be distributed and pools them together. The result is that the group of computers that make up the cloud have the use of their resources optimized, meaning there is better efficiency and utilization of the entire shared infrastructure. More can be accomplished with less.
- Lower capital expenses. Whether a public cloud or an outsourced private cloud is used, the result is the same: companies won’t have to worry about building out new server infrastructure. This results in reduced capital expenses.
- Speedier deployment of systems. Within a cloud, because it mostly consists of virtual systems, a server can be brought up and deployed in a very short period of time. Hardware deployment and networking becomes a thing of the past. Because servers can come online more quickly, applications can therefore be deployed more quickly as well.
- Scale as needed. Again, thanks to the virtualization that the cloud takes advantage of, you can buy only the resources that you need, and then scale your systems as your applications grow. There’s no longer a need to overbuy with an eye towards the future.
- Lower maintenance costs. These will be driven by 2 factors. First, there will be less hardware to power and maintain. Second, the cloud is usually outsourced, meaning there is no reason to have a staff on-hand to keep things running; the cloud provider will handle all of that on their side.
- Resiliency and redundancy. If your primary data center experiences an outage, failovers are in place to allow servers to be brought up at secondary sites.
The cloud is changing the way the world looks at Information Technology (IT). By taking advantage of the cloud, the benefits noted above can be reaped.
Note that other benefits exist as well, and that those listed here are a sampling and the key points. Readers should also be aware that for every benefit, there is usually a drawback. While the cloud offers great promise, anyone looking to make use of the cloud should research it thoroughly, including any issues that may come along with using it.