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Cloud Computing: Shaping the future

January 7, 2014

Harpreet Bhatia

Harpeeet is an experienced IT consultant with strong strategic, analytic, architectural and leadership skills. His has broad experience in IT management, architecture and has lead teams in various projects. He specializes in IT architecture, Program governance, IT roadmaps and strategy.

He is positive, results-driven and innovative individual with proven success in balancing operational synergies and business growth with client satisfaction, offering over 13 years’ experience in management and architecture positions in world-class organisations within the IT industry.

He is presently working as Program Architect for Department of Attorney General & Justice. He has been involved in architecture road map for the overall design and is working to establish synergy between various programs to be hosted in cloud environment.

Harpreet has passion for IT Strategy and Architecture, Adventure Sports and Travelling. He can be contacted on harpreet.bhatia@outlook.com

Cloud Computing: Shaping the future

Introduction

Some of the biggest and most powerful IT players like Microsoft, Google, IBM, SAP and others are jostling for positions in the emerging cloud computing market. Many telecommunication companies and start-up players have joined the party as well and are competing aggressively to gain entry into the billion dollar market of cloud computing. So what is cloud computing?

So what is cloud computing?

One commonly accepted definition explains cloud computing as pay-per-use model for enabling convenient, on-demand access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources such as networks, storages, servers, applications and services that can be rapidly and easily deployed and released. Cloud computing is an approach of delivering value to an organisation while reducing the capital expenditure by sharing resources.

What are the types of cloud?

There are at least 4 types of clouds:

Public Cloud

Public cloud are available to general public but are owned by an organisation selling cloud services. A public cloud is one in which the services and infrastructure are provided off-site over the Internet. These clouds offer the greatest level of efficiency in shared resources; however, they are also more vulnerable than private clouds. A public cloud is the obvious choice when your standardized workload for applications is used by lots of people, such as e-mail. Where organisation needs to test and develop application code, wants to collaboration projects and want to incrementally increase capacity during peak load hours. This type of cloud offers following features and benefits:

  • Scalability
  • Cost effective
  • Reliability
  • Flexibility
  • Location independence

Private Cloud

Private clouds are operated solely for a particular organisation but may be managed by either the organisation itself or a third party. A private cloud is one in which the services and infrastructure are maintained on a private network. These clouds offer the greatest level of security and control, but they require the company to still purchase and maintain all the software and infrastructure, which reduces the cost savings. Most large enterprises are already working on some form of the private cloud and are expected to move 25-30 precent of their computing workload within 3-5 years. Private cloud enable organisations to gain some of the benefits of the cloud while maintain better control over their data and applications. A private cloud is the obvious choice when an organisation is part of an industry that must conform to strict security and data privacy issues. This type of cloud offers following features and benefits:

  • Higher security and privacy
  • More control over the data and information
  • Cost and energy efficient
  • Enhanced and improved reliability.

Hybrid Cloud

Hybrid clouds are composed of two or more clouds which can be private or public. They are bound together by standardized or proprietary technology that enables data and application sharing. The goal is to combine services and data from a variety of cloud models to create a unified, automated, and well-managed computing environment. Therefore, an organisation can maximise their efficiencies by employing public cloud services for all non-sensitive operations, only relying on a private cloud where they require it and ensuring that all of their platforms are seamlessly integrated. This type of cloud offers following features and benefits:

  • Scalability
  • Cost efficiency
  • Security
  • Flexibility

Community Cloud

Community clouds are shared by several organisations and support a specific community. The organising principle for the community will vary, but the members of the community generally share similar security, privacy, performance and compliance requirements. Examples include supplies and key customers, sister agencies within a government or trusted partners such as procurement organisation within an industry. Community members may wish to invoke a mechanism that is often run by themselves (not just the provider) to review those seeking entry into the community.

Two dimensions are used to classify the various deployment models for cloud computing:

  • Where the service is running: On customer premise or in a service providers data centre and
  • Level of access: Shared or dedicated.

Cloud computing model

Cloud computing model offers 3 general types of services:

Software as a service (SaaS)

SaaS is the provision of the applications, such as customer relationship management (Google Apps, Microsoft 365), which are offered over the network (on demand) and does not require user to install and run the application on their own computers. In this model the user have to pay to use the service that is being provided by the host. Of the 3 models of cloud, SaaS currently has the largest market by a wide margin. This rapid growth indicates that SaaS will soon become commonplace within every organization and hence it is important that buyers and users of technology understand what SaaS is and where it is suitable.

An interesting example to explain SaaS is explained below:

Instead of selling you a copy of Microsoft Word for $300, a cloud computing model would “rent” word processing software to you through the Internet for perhaps $5 / month. You would not install any special software, nor would you be confined to your home machine to use this rented online product. You simply use your modern web browser to login from any web-enabled computer, and you can access your word processing documents in the same way that you would access your Gmail account.

While there are benefits to SaaS being available for the end users, there seems to be downsides to this form of model as well. The risk of Software as a service and cloud computing is that the users must place a high level of trust into the online software vendors that they will not disrupt the service. In a way, the software vendor holds its customers “hostage” because all of their documentation and productivity is now in the vendor’s hands. Security and protection of the file/data privacy becomes even more necessary, as the massive Internet is now part of the business network.

When a 600-employee business switches to cloud computing, they must choose their software vendor carefully. There will be dramatically-reduced administration cost to use cloud computing software. But there will be an increase in the risks of service disruption, connectivity, and online security.

Platform as a service (PaaS)

PaaS refers to a development environment and associated tools and services that are offered to customers for building their own application. Platform as a Service brings the benefits that SaaS bought for applications, but over to the software development world. PaaS can be defined as a computing platform that allows the creation of web applications quickly and easily and without the complexity of buying and maintaining the software and infrastructure underneath it. PaaS is analogous to SaaS except that, rather than being software delivered over the web, it is a platform for the creation of software, delivered over the web.

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)

The capability provided to the consumer is to provision processing, storage, networks, and other fundamental computing resources where the consumer is able to deploy and run arbitrary software, which can include operating systems and applications. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud physical infrastructure but has control over operating systems, storage, deployed applications, and possibly limited control of select networking components. Its goal is to provide a flexible, standard, and virtualized operating environment that can become a foundation for PaaS and SaaS. The consumer takes responsibility for configuration and operations of the guest Operating System (OS), software, and Database (DB). Compute capabilities (such as performance, bandwidth, and storage access) are also standardized.

Several hurdles for cloud computing

Despite numerous benefits and cost savings there seems to be adoption hurdles that is still keeping wider community adoption at bay. So what stands in the way of wider adoption of the public cloud by large enterprises?

  • Technical limits restrict the ability of enterprise to move legacy applications and complex applications to the cloud. Current trend suggest that at least 20 percent of a typical company’s workload is unlikely to move to cloud for technical reasons.
  • With high quality predictive analytics tools, companies can comb through a number of data streams to accurately identify customers who may be. Laws and regulations restrict the movement of data in many legal jurisdictions and require that the data of the individual corporations be segregated. The legal framework for contracting is also still evolving.
  • Standards to encourage data sharing across clouds are not yet in place. Until they emerge, current CIO’s will be concerned about interoperability and vendor lock-in.
  • Commercial terms are still evolving. Pricing is not yet as flexible and unrestrained as vendors pay-as-you-go marketing suggests. Performance and service levels are improving but are frequently inadequate for every day, must have, always on applications.
  • Security and data protection remain key topics, less for technical reasons than because the services do not yet have long-term track record.
  • Vendor landscape roadmaps of some vendors lack clarity about functionality, performance, cost raise questions on long term viability. Vendor service level agreements also lack governance models for making migration between vendors difficult.
  • SecuriOrganisation inertia and cultural resistance to sharing data and changing traditional ways of working is playing a critical role for organisation leaders to convince their stakeholders for a change.

What actions should business and IT Leaders be taking?

  • Understand how the cloud can reshape your industry.
  • Create a road map and align organisations strategy to capture value as the market matures.
  • Reshape and align the IT organisation.

What next from here…shaping the future

A current trend of the market suggests that clouds are here to stay, having provide their worth in many ways and settings. There has been and will continue to be uncertainty around timing, penetration and deployment. But it is certain that clouds are in the forecast for the foreseeable future it is smarter to pay attention to them and develop business and IT strategies around them than to pretend that they will blow over.