Cloud Computing: How “Cloudy” do you want to be?

One of the larger benefits of “cloud computing” is the ability to pool resources into a centralized model for maximum resource utilization. When viewed simply through this lens, cloud computing has been around since the 1950s with mainframe computing and “big iron.” Today’s cloud models take efficiency to a much higher level, and they offer so much more than simply efficiency:

    • Multi-tenancy – allows infrastructure sharing across a large pool of users. This is enabled by the virtualization capabilities of the hardware and software as well as the ability of the cloud software layer to dynamically allocate the requested resources to each user and build a security model specific to each user.


    • Efficiency – multi-tenancy allows the cloud provider to build and configure the cloud based on the projected aggregate needs of the whole user population. At any given time, one user’s usage may be low but another user’s usage at a peak. But, overall, there will be less “stranded capacity” than is typically experienced in a traditional IT environment.


    • OpEx versus CapEx – Many companies would like to lower their capital expenditures or allocate that money elsewhere. Utilizing public cloud IT resources, where appropriate, on a pay as you go basis can skew the IT cost model more toward operating expenses.


    • IT Flexibility – For a number of reasons, a company may choose to house their major applications in a traditional fashion with purchased or leased equipment and software. However, to avoid buying and managing to peak usage requirements (Christmas season for a retailer, for example), the company may elect to implement a hybrid cloud model that allows for “bursting” to a public cloud during seasons of peak demands.


    • Reduced applicate time-to-deployment – the cloud software layer, whether private or public, will offer automated provisioning capabilities. This allows a user to self-provision an entire application instance in minutes verses the hours or days required in a traditional environment. When the instance is no longer needed, the resources are returned to the pool for consumption by another user.


    • Staff reallocation – Once up and running in a cloud environment, whether private or public, many IT departments find that the ongoing effort of managing and allocating the IT resources, provisioning, and application deployment require significantly less staff. These valuable resources can be deployed elsewhere.


Moving to a cloud environment can offer all of the above benefits and more for most companies. But which cloud model is most appropriate? How do we get there? Where do we start? Cloud design is the crucial first step in the process in determining how “cloudy” you want to be. Thorough study and planning in this phase results in significant value in later phases.

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