The Future of IT is Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is changing the way consumers and businesses access software and IT services.
Web services such as Hotmail, Gmail, Facebook or Flickr are all examples for cloud-based consumer services, but for businesses the term is wider and advocates of cloud computing believes that it will change the way computing work is done and IT services are sourced. In the future IT services could be provided as a utility just like electricity or water.
Essentially, cloud computing is the provision of computer services, whether they are software applications, IT infrastructure or platforms, on demand via the Internet (‘the cloud’).
By running applications on remote servers, rather than local machines, and accessing them via the Internet businesses can both make savings and increase their flexibility in the purchase and operation of IT systems.
Typically business applications such as enterprise resource planning systems (ERP) can be complex and require data centers, which in turn need office space, servers, networks, storage, power, cooling and bandwidth. This infrastructure has to be operated and maintained by a team of experts. When many different applications have to be run the complexity and cost rises significantly and for smaller businesses this type of technology can be completely out of reach.
Cloud computing is touted to be the future because it represents potential cost savings in terms of server and network infrastructure and facilities that are no longer needed and replaced by a monthly subscription fee.
In addition, time consuming updates are done automatically by the service provider, giving the IT staff time to focus on the development of new and the leveraging of existing technology.
While cloud computing is not new, the big difference today is the increasing reliance on and reliability of broadband internet.
Most commonly cloud computing involves the use of web-based applications, accessed over the Internet through a web-browser, which in terms of usability do not differ from any software program that is installed on the machine of the user.
Robert Desisto, a researcher with Gartner, sees three primary reasons for companies to look at this type of software as a service or SaaS. The main concern for small businesses is limited IT resources, he says. In combination with the small capital expenditure that is required for software rental via the web as opposed to the outright purchase and operation of software and server infrastructure, services can be more easily consumed from an operating expense perspective.
New software can also be deployed much more quickly, Desisto says. He believes that small and medium sized businesses will see the value of cloud computing sooner as their requirements are generally less complex.
-Myke Schwartz, PEI