December 14, 2016

Cloud A-Z Part 1: The era of cloud is upon us

It’s the era of the “Cloud.” Cloud is so prevalent that when I sat down to dinner with some casual acquaintances ranging from dog breeders to international corporation managers who found out what I do for a living, I spent an hour answering cloud questions. Their questions ranged from “What is cloud computing?” to “How secure is cloud computing?”

This is the first in a series of articles being written to answer the most common questions around cloud, ranging from what it is to whether it’s the right fit for the business.

Cloud isn’t just the extension of what has gone on before nor is it just a renaming of already existing technology. Cloud, as defined by Salesforce founder Marc Benioff, is “multi-tenant. It’s faster, half the cost, pay-as-you-go. It grows as you grow or shrinks as you shrink. It’s extremely efficient.”

What about virtualization, you may ask. That’s the same thing as cloud computing, isn’t it? Not so. Virtualization was developed to overcome the limitations of a server. Typically a server performs one function at a time. To do more risks reliability and efficiency. Virtualization allows multiple pseudo servers to run simultaneously on the same hardware. The result is the ability to gather multiple sets of data on a single machine, and though this is the backbone of cloud computing it is not cloud computing, itself.

Cloud computing is more like a utility company. At the beginning of the century, power was routinely produced by individual businesses. They purchased their own equipment and paid for it whether they were using it or not. Before too long, however, utility providers were making an appearance and more and more businesses began purchasing from them, paying only for what they used. They were able to take advantage of enormous cost savings that accompanied large scale electricity generation. This emerging model is ideal for organizations with a high degree of fluctuation in work force, variable workloads, or the need to move from CapEx to OpEx.

Without cloud computing, organizations leveraging traditional servers will typically find themselves in one of two situations:

  1. An overprovisioning of servers creating unused capacity resulting in a higher cost per process
  2. An under provisioning of servers with more demand than capacity resulting in poor performance

This ability to scale has led to the democratization of computing. In other words, cloud computing allows small and medium businesses to take advantage of enterprise-size capabilities. Without cloud computing, a small business or an entrepreneur would never be able to afford many of the applications or uses they can through cloud. Enterprise-size businesses are finding it more cost-effective to offload many of their tactical IT efforts to cloud providers, allowing their IT teams to focus on strategies to grow their business, improve IT ROI, or create more efficiencies of scale for those IT efforts they keep onsite.

This doesn’t change that many are still resistant to adoption of cloud technology. They worry about security, access, availability of data, and other concerns. But the question arises… can you afford not to move to the cloud? Think back to the advent of the Internet. Initially, there was a high degree of resistance and mistrust. Businesses built their own internal networks but refused to leverage the public network. As universities, governments and those organizations that did business with them began to adopt the public Internet, those who resisted began to pay a costly price. Eventually, they couldn’t afford not to move to the internet, and by that time their business had suffered, their costs were out-of-hand and they couldn’t compete with those who made the transition earlier.

Do you want to find yourself in the same position?

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If you have additional questions or would like more information on the cloud stack, contact ECSCloudServices@arrow.com or call 1.877.558.6677.

 Did You Miss Any of Our Other Articles in the A-Z Series?

Abstracted from Rackspace’s “Revolution Not Evolution.”