The Definition of Cloud Computing
By Ross Spelman, Group Technical Services Manager, Espion
What is the cloud and why should I go there?
The transition to cloud services offers major opportunities for your organisation. Significant scalability, flexibility and cost-efficiency can all be achieved through the adoption of cloud-based solutions. Migrating to the cloud can be a scary prospect for many organizations. In fact, the question is often asked: What actually is cloud computing, and why do I need to go there? Drawing on our consultants’ wealth of knowledge, we have put together a comprehensive definition of cloud computing, outlining how to get the best out of this new technology.
Cloud Computing Defined
On Demand Self Service
At the touch of a button your cloud environment should be there for you. For example, if your IT team were to come under pressure to add or change software, platforms or infrastructure and make them available to your users, they should be able to make these additions instantly. It’s an instant access environment provision.
Ubiquitous Network Access
This is the beauty of cloud – you can access it from anywhere via the Internet. You don’t need any specialized ingress point into your environment; it’s readily accessible for anyone with Internet access. You can access it anytime, from anywhere. This benefit is crucial to all aspects of your organization. All your team needs is an Internet connection and they can log in and use all their enterprise applications and systems, including all their data and resources from any location. This can be vital for remote workers, such as salespeople on the road who are trying to close that quarter-defining sale.
There are risks with this of course; companies need to keep control of who has access to the cloud and what data they are able to access. The benefits that come from having ease of access also create risks. Our experts regularly work with organizations to define the criticality of their data and then categorize it, based on their requirements. It’s important to apply controls to your environment to ensure the right people are accessing the right data.
Location Transparent Resource Pooling
The cloud allows you to pool your resources, so an organization can exploit its assets 24 hours a day. By pooling your resources in a cloud you can utilize your software, platforms and infrastructure through shared services, allowing your users to get the most out of your assets. Pooling strategies include the likes of data storage services, processing services and bandwidth provision services. This provides huge economies of scale for organisations and provides the means to really embrace the global office. As your workforce shuts down for the day on one side of the world, your team on the other side can get up and continue working from the same platforms, applications and infrastructure. The cloud allows you to sweat your assets from anywhere.
The beauty of being in the cloud is the ability to scale up and scale down your infrastructure at a moment’s notice. The ability to auto-scale in the cloud eliminates much of the risk associated with scoping requirements for technology projects. With traditional environments on premise, if you under-scope the design for an environment and the demands on it prove higher than expected, you lose revenue. Conversely, if you over-scope and sales are lower than expected, you increase costs unnecessarily. The ability to scale your infrastructure at will allows you to design environments with a degree of confidence not available with traditional models.
Once again, this benefit comes with its own risks. It’s imperative that this is monitored on a regular basis. The ease of scaling up and down environments brings financial rewards but also heightens the risk. If an environment is scaled up to meet peak demand and left as such when it’s not needed, this can have negative implications.
Proper, consistent management of this service is the key to success.
Measured Pay Per Use
When in the cloud, you only pay for what you use. This means you can offset your operational savings against your capital expenditure and truly reap the financial benefits. Resource usage can be monitored, controlled, and reported, providing transparency for both the provider and consumer of the utilized service. In addition, this allows for a much more predictable and closely-controlled method of financial accounting, moving from Cap-Ex to Op-Ex budgeting.