Your partners and competitors alike are making the IT migration of the century. Is it time to follow them… into the Cloud?
Enthusiasts rate the development of Cloud computing as 21st century IT’s most significant innovation to date, capable of delivering flexibility, security enhancements and cost savings. Despite those promises, EU organizations have been slower to adopt it than their U.S. counterparts. There are signs that this transatlantic gap is beginning to close, but many on this side of the pond continue to waver.
Is Cloud computing on your IT ‘To Do’ list? We’ve been hearing the term for a decade or more… but, if you’ve never flagged it as ‘urgent’, you’re not alone! While some 80 percent of U.S. companies are pursuing a Cloud strategy, the figure for EU businesses is closer to one-third, and management’s grasp of the subject is correspondingly sketchy.
That being so, let’s take a look at the Absolute Basics.
No-one is quite sure where the term Cloud computing comes from, but the concept it embodies is simple enough. Who cares if your laptop or phone doesn’t have a built-in spreadsheet, or a video editor? As long as you have an Internet connection, you can run the apps you need on a remote server… or in the Cloud, to use the jargon.
The Server Strikes Back
This Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) arrangement is less novel than it might first appear. Throughout the 60s and 70s, computing meant accessing mainframes (smart) from terminals (dumb). The arrival of the PC shifted resources from the computer room to the desktop, but the Internet presented a powerful argument for a return to older client/server models.
Just think of Google as a SaaS project, and you’ll see what we mean!
Of course, Cloud computing in 2017 is a richer and more appealing experience than logging onto a mainframe in 1977. SaaS has a big brother called Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), which enables IT departments to set up entire ‘virtualized’ desktops in the Cloud, so that users can access familiar office resources wherever they happen to be, and whatever device is in front of them.
The Cloud promises solutions to other kinds of IT dilemma, too. We’ll tiptoe past variants like Storage-as-a-Service and Infrastructure-as-a-
Service, noting only that the most successful IT paradigms are always the ones that mutate fastest.
As far as your IT department is concerned, what matters most in all these *aaS acronyms is the word ‘service’. The Cloud simplifies the operations of software provisioning and maintenance to the point where they disappear. After all, why go to the trouble of buying, installing, updating and virus-checking 200 copies of Microsoft PowerPoint when you can rent them by the hour and deploy them seamlessly via the web? Adopting SaaS and PaaS strategies enables companies to set up computer resources overnight and scale them up or down at a moment’s notice.
In short, Cloud computing has emerged as the natural counterpart to flexible working practices.
Economies Of Scale
This brings us back to that transatlantic divergence we mentioned earlier. Perhaps it’s cultural rather than technical.
Europeans, who have traditionally preferred a stable work environment, tend to express their concerns about the Cloud in terms of security. Isn’t it shortsighted and dangerous to relinquish local control? Won’t our data be vulnerable, out there where everyone can see it?
Not according to the CIA. Like other U.S. government bodies, the notoriously secretive Agency has for some years outsourced much of its IT provision to an $800m private-sector Cloud. The decision is counterintuitive, but makes perfect sense.
While enterprise security provision relies on hard-pressed IT managers to keep up with the latest exploits and patches, Cloud providers can afford to employ dedicated teams, to have the latest encryption resources available, and to maintain multiple redundant backups. Your data will likely be safer in the Cloud than on your own premises.
Business analysts are keen on the Cloud, but some of their analyses miss what we believe will turn out to be the most significant Cloud advantage — its contribution to open and accessible working practices. Just as social media has enabled deeper contacts between businesses and their customers, the Cloud encourages new forms of engagement.
Here at Planet 9 Energy, we’re anticipating the arrival of the smart grid… and we think Cloud-enabled infrastructures will make a big difference to our customers. Give us a ring to learn more.