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A Cloud Primer

A Cloud Primer

Smokestack lightin'

Author: Jeff Armstrong/Wednesday, September 25, 2013/Categories: The Cloud

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When my young daughter asked about clouds a few years back, I told her the cloud is where the future of business is going.  She looked up at me perplexed and confused as many are in understanding the Cloud concept and went back to placing their shapes.

When people attempt to describe Cloud computing, many use the analogous comparison with the power grid.  It’s an apt analogy because it is a comparison of not only the infrastructure; it also describes how the service is delivered and billed.

The rise and proliferation of smokestacks and the utility grid began in the late 19th century.  And, initially, 90% of all businesses generated their own power to serve the business.  Then over a twenty year span, 85% of all businesses got the power from the grid.  It was (and still is)  the most efficient model to get juice to the people.  

Power is a metered service that’s always on, you only pay for what you use and you don’t have to worry about maintaining the infrastructure.  Sounds a lot like what we are talking about with the cloud.

Cloud computing has fundamentally changed how businesses, enterprises and consumers access and drive content.  Beginning, really, with e-commerce, then communication, collaboration and now entire technology stacks are moving to the cloud. 

Cloud computing asks the same question that was being asked in the late 19th century:  why pay for and manage the layers of an IT infrastructure when you can just plug in and pay for what you need?   

Why? Because that model is more efficient.

Take email for example, you have your email server hardware coupled with the server’s OS and on top is Microsoft’s Exchange Server software.  It's one connected bundle; and if one piece fails in then the connectivity of it all fails.

Cloud computing decouples the layers of existing IT infrastructure and removes the reliance that those layers are communicating in a harmonious fashion at all times.  When you separate the hardware, the operating system and the applications from themselves you run on a more stable and secure environment.  

The current Cloud model complements traditional IT; and advancements in virtualization, provisioning and automation provide self-healing and redundancies; and are components of and steps into the Cloud.  The benefits are big: efficiency and flexibility go up while costs go down. 

Now that the Cloud has the attention of non-IT Executives who are interested in delivering data and applications to users anywhere and the growth rate the growth rate looks stellar, far outpacing traditional IT. Here’s a good Forbes article detailing the growth rates and future.    

Now, when my daughter and I look up at the sky together and look beyond the shapes and sizes, we see something else...potential.  

What do you see?

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