IT and Telecoms: Where Cloud Computing Fits Into Your Business
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New concepts are emerging almost daily and businesses, in general, can’t keep up – or be expected to. If an organisation is in the market for new business systems, functions or services, they could well consider new developments in technology. The problem, however, lies with legacy systems; expensive components and products which are already implemented and rapidly being depreciated.
Cloud Computing is one such concept. With virtually every IT vendor/provider on the planet jumping on the Cloud Computing bandwagon, sometimes it's difficult to tell whether a service is truly a Cloud Computing offering or simply a pre-existing offering that has the Cloud label attached to it, such as hosting, outsourcing, ASP (Application Service Provider), On Demand Computing, Grid computing, Utility computing, SaaS (Software as a Service) and so on.
Cloud Computing, in a nutshell, is style of computing in which businesses buy services, products and solutions from a provider. These offerings are delivered via the “cloud”: a network limited only by the scope of what a business needs. “Users don’t need to have knowledge of, expertise in, or control over the technology in the cloud that supports them, merely make use of what the business needs,” explains Hubert Wentzel, Divisional Director, EOH Consulting.
In fact, he says that Cloud Computing is not a technology revolution, but rather a process and business evolution on how we use those technologies that enable Cloud Computing as it exists today: SaaS, inexpensive storage, REST, AJAX, SOA service-oriented architectures), On Demand Computing, Grid Computing, Utility Computing, virtualisation, etc.
“The issue is that many providers of those technologies hijacked the term Cloud Computing, and it is this confusion that discredits the entire industry; if everyone is doing ‘Cloud’, then in a sense, no one is doing it. The advantages the cloud is supposed to deliver become dissipated in the mist of confusion, deception, deceit and disillusionment,” he adds.
Consider the following analogy: any example of franchising is a business, however not all businesses are franchises; this line of reasoning can be applied to Cloud Computing: while some SaaS offerings are Cloud, that doesn't make all SaaS offerings Cloud services. “For all of these reasons, it's important to define what is really Cloud Computing because there is definitely promise of value, despite all the hype and confusion,” says Wentzel.
Business managers know that in spite of the benefits of every new technology/business model, there are also risks and issues like trust, loss of privacy, regulatory violation, data replication, coherency and erosion of integrity, application sprawl, and dependencies, among others. Therefore they realise that rushing things when it comes to Cloud Computing can be a very bad decision.
“Ignoring Cloud Computing all together, because of a belief in your ability to secure your own environment better than a service provider ever could, or jumping rapidly into it because the many claims made about Cloud Computing have led you to the point of ‘irrational exuberance’ and unrealistic expectations, isn't smart either,” he adds. “It is likely that unbeknownst to many managers, some of their departments are already using Cloud Computing, and they will eventually need to define a Cloud Governance Programme and make it available to all their internal customers.”
For instance, if your company has an IT department, one must agree that it is very tempting for software developers, pressed to demonstrate a proof of concept, to use a Cloud Computing service provider and configure the servers there (in minutes or hours), instead of waiting days or months for new server acquisitions to be approved, delivered, set up by IT, have the network configured, and so on.
Or maybe it is your sales department that decides to go to a Cloud Computing service provider and start using their Cloud Computing CRM immediately, instead of waiting months to have an on-premise CRM programme, and you will only become aware of this initiative when they ask to integrate it with the billing and finance programs.
“After all, all they need is a credit card (if the cost is low it may well be within the discretionary budget of the department, and in some situations not even a credit card is required because some Cloud offerings are free), to start using any Cloud Computing service immediately, and in true agile fashion, instead of asking permission to use it, they may be asking you for forgiveness after they have already done so” Wentzel says. “Also, a relatively young company, without a huge IT infrastructure, will tend to move more quickly to the Cloud, be able to enter and build new ‘markets’ more rapidly, and thus achieve competitive advantages over more traditional businesses.”
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