Posted in Operations & IT Articles, Total Reads: 4463
, Published on 17 April 2011
Cloud computing has taken the world by storm and is expected to be $148 billion industry by 2014. What is cloud computing? It refers to the delivery of scalable IT resources over the Internet, as opposed to hosting and operating those resources locally. We have been using cloud computing for many years, but the term has been coined recently. Most of us have email accounts with google, yahoo etc. These are nothing but email service over the cloud since data resides on google’s servers and you just access it over the internet by logging in. It is google’s responsibility to ensure smooth running of its infrastructure. The most commonly-used metaphor for cloud is electricity. Just like end-users consume power and pay per use without ever having to learn about the underlying systems and technologies that make up the grid that provides the service, cloud users are supposed to have similar limited knowledge and control over the technology infrastructure that supports them. They simply pay for what they need and when they need it.
Now the biggest question which on everybody’s mind is whether cloud computing pose a threat to outsourcing firms like TCS, Infosys, Wipro, IBM, Accenture etc. In the past, enterprises should to make upfront investments to own IT assets, both hardware and software, and pay millions of dollars to outsourcing firms to take care of their assets. In theory, this makes case to severely dent business of outsourcing firms. But reality is bit different. Cloud computing makes some aspects of IT simple but it adds to the complexity also. An enterprise will still require advice which cloud services it requires and all of them should work together seamlessly. And this is opportunity for an IT company. Enterprises have invested billions of dollars in setting up their IT infrastructure and they will not just throw it away because paradigm shifts in technology. More than replacing the current infrastructure, cloud solutions will need to be integrated with existing IT infrastructure. This provides opportunity for the existing IT services players ranging from strategic planning to integration services. Accenture, for example, has developed a cloud computing accelerator that identifies the value of opportunities available to an enterprise in the cloud and then draws up a deployment strategy complete with the vendor road-map. Let’s talk about cloud taxonomy.
Cloud computing services can be classified as follows:
Infrastructure As A Service: It is a provision model in which an organization outsources the equipment used to support operations, including storage, hardware, servers and networking components. The service provider owns the equipment and is responsible for housing, running and maintaining it. The client typically pays on a per-use basis.
Software As A Service: SaaS is a new model of how software is delivered. SaaS refers to software that is accessed via a web browser and is paid on a subscription basis (monthly or yearly). SaaS presents significant advantages to the customer where customer buys a license to software and assumes ownership for its maintenance and installation. SaaS is faster and a cost effective way to getting implemented as there are no hardware, implementation or acquisition costs involved to run the application from the customer's side. It's the responsibility of the SaaS vendor to manage and run the application with utmost security, performance and reliability. Since customers pay a subscription, they have immediate access to the new features and functionality. Unlike traditional softwares where upgrades would happen once a year or once in 6 months the SaaS vendor continuously pushes new updates, fixes to the application, which is immediately accessible by the customer. This reduces the length of time it takes a customer to recognize value from the software. Salesforce, a CRM solution, is a good example of SaaS.
Platform As A Service: It is the delivery of computing platform and solution stack as a service. PaaS offerings facilitate deployment of applications without the cost and complexity of buying and managing the underlying hardware and software and provisioning hosting capabilities, providing all of the facilities required to support the complete life cycle of building and delivering web applications and services entirely available from the Internet. Windows Azure is Microsoft’s answer to cloud computing. Windows Azure is Microsoft’s operating system for the cloud. This platform is not limited to only one language. It can be operated in multiple languages.
Currently cloud accounts for only 5% of the total IT spend worldwide. It will be difficult to say whether cloud computing will replace traditional IT but both of them can go hand in hand. Security is also an issue in cloud computing as the entire data virtually exist in the cloud. Service companies that can adapt to the changing business models will be clear winners. Whether Indian IT companies can mould themselves? Time will only tell.
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