Cloud computing promises blue skies

Cloud Computing cloud illustrationScratch the latest revolutionary IT concept and you’ll usually find that underneath all the hype, there’s something familiar going on. That’s certainly true of cloud computing – the reinvention of client/server technology for the 21st century.

Cloud computing is all about giving your people access to server-based computer resources – systems, applications and storage – via the network, whether it’s your corporate WAN or the Internet itself. Only the servers probably won’t be in your computer room, like the old days. If you’ve decided to outsource your infrastructure, they could be anywhere in the world and your applications and systems could be spread across different locations by a hosting company which effectively takes on the technical and financial burdens of maintenance and service quality, leaving you to focus on your business without the distractions of technology overheads.

That’s the theory, anyway. System performance and accessibility are unaffected. Your staff don’t need to download applications to their mobile or desktop devices. They don’t even need to store documents or data because everything is kept remotely in the cloud. It isn’t hard to see the potential economic and administrative appeal to edg customers of a concept that potentially gives a mobile workforce such fluid, trouble-free and secure access to their key data and applications across a much simplified model.

Conventional 24×7 hardware support and running costs go out of the window, replaced by service agreements and hosted software licenses. And the cloud grows with the requirements of the business, flexibly and exponentially, without the need to factor in the expense of planned server upgrades.

No wonder the cloud has captured the imagination of business owners and their senior IT professionals, with its promise of complete flexibility. Workloads can be shared between private and public clouds, as business requirements shift. Resource, memory and storage resources are guaranteed rather than impacted by bandwidth-hungry applications – and users. The cloud can be managed via a single, intuitive dashboard, regardless of the variety of environments it consists of.

According to a new study from market analyst IDG Research, a quarter of European IT leaders have already deployed the cloud model, at least at departmental level. Many organisations have spotted the low-risk possibility for exploring the cloud’s resilience by trying it out in single projects or low-budget development programmes.

With business agility and visibility now major drivers behind any changes in IT strategy, the cloud is increasingly seen as the go-to model.

IDG Research estimates that UK CIOs are allocating as much as one third of their IT budgets to cloud computing. That’s quite a commitment. And much of this is being spent on developing the appropriate skills and staff resources, use to use the cloud model effectively, you need to understand how it will support your business services and communications, and make sure that you are buying a service that will override the disruptions and slowdowns that traditionally affect corporate IT infrastructures.

But as cloud service vendors rise to the challenge of delivering performance and security levels that organisations have always demanded of their in-house infrastructures, businesses of every size should take the potential benefits – reduced costs, greater efficiency and limitless computing resources delivered seamlessly – very seriously indeed.

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