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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  26 Apr 2013

INFOTECH: CloudÂ’s Impact on the Enterprise


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After an initial reluctance to adopt cloud computing – due to a general distrust of having their company’s critical data stored in a centralised place – cloud computing is now being embraced by an increasing amount of enterprises of all sizes around the world. In fact, cloud computing is now being touted as a major money maker.

Analyst firm IDC found that spending on public and private IT cloud services will create (and will have generated) nearly 14 million jobs worldwide from 2011 to 2015. The research, which was commissioned by Microsoft, also predicts that the IT innovation created due to cloud computing could produce up to $1.1 trillion a year in new business revenue. Bain and Company and Gartner forecast that Software as a Service (SaaS) and other cloud-based business application services will grow from $13.4 billion in 2011 to $32.2 billion by 2016. According to IDC, enterprise cloud application revenues are projected to reach $67.3 billion by 2016. Gartner also predicts that Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), cloud management and security devices, and Platform as a Service (PaaS) will grow from $7.6 billion in 2011, to $35.5 billion in 2016.

While the impact on and monetary benefits for cloud providers are obvious, how exactly do these cloud computing services impact the enterprise‘ “The various layers of cloud computing each have different impacts on the enterprise,” says Anton van Heerden, General Manager at Altech ISIS. “At a high level, cloud computing services fall into three different categories, or layers, which sit on top of one another. At the bottom is IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service) is in the middle, and SaaS (Software as a Service) is at the top of this stack.”

In general, cloud computing services allow enterprises to focus on the business architecture – that which is unique to the business – and to be flexible about the rest, since it can be bought on an as needed basis. This means that companies can focus on their core business without having to worry about an internal IT infrastructure. “Enterprises still need a business architecture, but it requires much less technical application in the cloud, since all of the issues surrounding the infrastructure now become the issues that the cloud computing service provider have to deal with,” Van Heerden says.

“The other benefit is that IT now becomes much more flexible and more cost effective. Enterprises only pay per transaction and the only concern they have is to internally train their employees on how to use the business apps. The migration of data to a cloud computing service vendor makes moving to a new app suite far easier than having to rewrite, license or purchase it. Since it is hosted off-premise, mobility becomes even more attractive.”

A few years ago, before the advent of cloud computing services, enterprises that wanted to run business applications and control their companyÂ’s website had to invest in servers and hardware. With IaaS, enterprises are now able to outsource those hardware requirements to cloud computing services that will supply them with operating systems, servers, storage, and networking hardware.

“The impact IaaS has on the enterprise is that, since there is no infrastructure sizing, procurement and installation cycle – even if those happen in parallel – things can happen much faster,” Van Heerden explains. “Since disaster recovery becomes someone else’s concern, there is high availability and IT managers are freed up to perform other tasks.”

For those who are worried about data security with IaaS, Van Heerden says that cloud computing providers can provide assurance that all tenants are effectively isolated from one another and that all the stored data is encrypted. The other major benefit with IaaS is that customers only pay for extra infrastructure during an upgrade window.

Similarly, PaaS offers pay-as-you-use solutions for developing and deploying applications over the Internet. These include storage, security and virtualised database servers for developing and hosting applications. “With PaaS, a layer can be created to separate your enterprise’s applications from the platform infrastructure to prevent lock-in,” Van Heerden says. “There is also a webification of operational support tools such as monitoring and alerting.”

According to Van Heerden, SaaS has the greatest impact on the enterprise. “The business architecture – the top level enterprise architecture – may need to be adjusted for available SaaS applications. It is because of these complexities that companies have realised the value in cloud services brokerages, which help them navigate the intricacies of all the different cloud service providers and cloud offerings,” Van Heerden concludes.

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