The “Cloud” – What is it? What is it good for?

Stephan GmelinBy Stephan Gmelin, PCX Technologies, Inc.

It seems every time you open a newspaper or a news website there is another reference to the “Cloud”. Everyone in the marketing industry seems to be touting “Cloud” Computing as the future.  Here is the thing though; the term has different meanings to different people.

If you use any kind of social media or online data drive (iCloud) you are using the “Cloud”. Some IT professionals think of the “Cloud” as a way to virtualize all of the services needed to run an office, while others may think of the “Cloud” as a private infrastructure held securely within a datacenter with dedicated firewalls, etc. The truth is that the “Cloud” is all these things and more.

Let us start to clarify

  1. The “Cloud” is not a place – The “Cloud” can be anywhere, location no longer has to matter.
  2. The “Cloud” is not an island – The “Cloud” can be private, public or hybrid. As new technology and applications enter the “Cloud”, a combination of public and private “Cloud” (hybrid) will become the norm.
  3. The “Cloud” is not top-down – “Cloud” utilization is no longer driven by top level management. As any credit card transaction can allow for temporary utilization of services consumers or business units can take advantage of “Cloud” services without the need of IT department involvement.
  4. The “Cloud” is not hype – The “Cloud” is here and is technically and financially very viable. It will revolutionize how business is conducted.

The “Cloud” is a network of servers and these servers have different functions. Some use computing power to run applications or deliver a service, while others allow you to store and access data. “Cloud” Computing refers to the delivery of IT resources and/or applications via the Internet with an on-demand, pay-as-you-go business model.

What is it good for?

The Consumer “Cloud” primarily offers free services such as Gmail, Hotmail, Dropbox, Spotify, Instagram, iCloud, Social Media, etc.

The Business or Corporate “Cloud” provides infrastructure that is highly scalable, highly redundant and highly available, offering applications and services from data centers all over the world. It allows a business to take advantage of otherwise un-affordable Enterprise Class system architecture on a subscription basis. In the “Cloud” model companies only pay for what they use and it offers the ability to increase and decrease the number of resources as the business (season) requires.

The “Cloud” is not necessarily cheaper than in-house resources and every decision to-go or not-to-go to the “Cloud” should be based on a well-considered business case and be arrived at with the help of a knowledgeable IT consultant.

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