Cloud Computing – What You Need to Know to Improve Your Business

There is a growing awareness and interest in the business community, from small enterprises to fortune 500 companies, in the concept of “cloud computing”.  Put simply, it’s a style of computing where software (applications), information technology infrastructure, and computing “platforms” are delivered to an organization as a service.  Using this model, organizations that use technology can better balance their technology needs and costs.  They can purchase only the amount of computing capacity required to run their operation, saving money and personnel resources.  Cloud computing facilitates the outsourcing of hardware, infrastructure, software, and management so that the organization can concentrate on its core business strategy.  Information technology then becomes an operational expense as opposed to a capital expense.

The movement to cloud computing has been made possible by the ever increasing power of computers and servers and the increasing speed and ubiquity of the Internet.  Most areas of the country are now able to purchase bandwidth in the range of 10 to 50 megabits (mb) for less than $200 per month.  Contrast that with the old reliable T1, which was the gold standard of Internet access just a few years ago, that has a speed of just 1.544 mb and costs around $500.00 per month.  Cloud computing would not have the advantages and popularity at that rate of data transfer and cost.

Similarly, computers that act as servers are now significantly more powerful than their predecessors.  With the capabilities of these servers and the emergence and stability of virtualization, a single server computer can host several virtual servers.  This one piece of hardware can now do the job which used to require many machines.  A single virtual server might hold a company’s SQL engine, its applications, its email server and even its “file and print” server.  In the past that would require four physical machines.  In addition, these virtual servers resemble files in a traditional server environment so they are easily moved from one physical server to another allowing for increased portability and redundancy.  This technology, therefore, has the ability to significantly improve reliability and reduce cost.  Were an organization to move this virtual server to a hosting facility (think “cloud”) energy consumption and hardware maintenance costs could also be reduced.

The implementation of the corporate cloud can come in many forms, from a completely corporate- owned private cloud to a model where the organization owns none of its infrastructure and is computing on outsourced, public resources.  The implementation of the private cloud is simply an aggregation of computing resources into a single privately managed data center.   The other extreme occurs when the organization outsources applications, data, backup, and support to companies specializing in the cloud.  There are many hybrid versions which are now the most common implementations.

Micro Support Group has been offering cloud solutions for more than 5 years, is fully committed to the concept, and is very experienced in moving organizations to the cloud.  In upcoming posts I will discuss various forms of cloud computing and how organizations can avail themselves of resources and savings.

Bruce Billingham

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