The dictionary defines the adjective “cloudy” as “hazy, vague, indistinct, or confused.” The noun form is much worse defining cloud as “anything that obscures or darkens something, or causes gloom, trouble, suspicion, disgrace, etc.” Ghastly.
Cloud solutions is the exact opposite of something vague or, worse, troublesome. The cloud has moved beyond the whiteboard to something which is very much resting on a solid foundation and has gained a wide following in the marketplace.
Linguists should append the dictionary entry for “cloud” to add a sentence explaining what the cloud means for IT folks. For IT, the cloud is something positive effective, not negative. To stick with its idea as something nebulous, think of the cloud as a resource that is out there, like a cloud, beyond the horizon, close by when we need it, malleable so that you can shape it to meet your needs.
The IT definition firmly in hand, “cloud” still means different things to different organizations. For startup-companies, it is a platform of web, applications, database servers, and a preconfigured network that one can tap into on a rental basis with zero upfront capital cost. There is no need to invest thousands or millions to get online with your own data center: instead you can open an account at any of the many cloud providers and launch your application, store your data, with no capital expense at all.
What about medium to large-sized companies with existing operations? Any IT executive who follows the literature has noticed that in-house data centers risk going the way of the dinosaur as cost-conscious CIOs see the cloud as a way to both drive down operating costs and facilitate quick response to changing customer requirements.
Your data center may be large, stacked wall-to-wall with virtualized, commodity hardware, but it pales in comparison to what LoadSpring and other cloud providers have built, not just in the United States but around the world, located close to their customers to reduce latency.
Cloud providers, for all practical purposes, offer an infinite amount of storage and processing power for your application. The cloud is not thought of as a physical entity; it’s just out there and available. Tap into it as needed.
What about the sunk costs of an existing operation? One cannot simply toss out years of effort, signup with a cloud provider, and unplug existing hardware without giving some though to the matter.
There will always be some kind of hybrid model in the cloud configuration. Your corporate LAN, email, and financial systems may remain in house, but your customer relations software might run entirely in the cloud. Your application and web servers might be upstairs in your own air-conditioned facility, but your file system might run as hundreds or thousands of nodes located at your cloud provider’s facilities.
Contract management, user support, and project management fits naturally into a social media platform on cloud-deployed portal. The cloud portion of this system means it is running offsite on low-cost, virtualized servers. The social media aspect means it offers an interface where users can post comments and respond to queries. This brings issues out in front in the proper forum where everyone can see them instead of having them buried in an endless and difficult to read stream of emails.
When you move contract management and project management on to the cloud, you are tapping into best commercial off-the-shelf products designed for your business. Sure you could install Oracle or Siebel in house, but why go to the expense of doing so?
Cloud solutions do not always get rid of the need to configure your application and get it running. Depending on whom you choose for a cloud provider, you may still have to do that working with your own staff supplemented by consultants. But, the cloud does free you from the headaches of rolling out the infrastructure and paying people for that. With the cloud model, your systems administrator can handle many more systems, since the work of patching the OS, backing up the file system can be outsourced to the cloud in whole or to whatever degrees suits your operation.
The cloud offers companies a way to tap into economies of scale and lower operating costs by separating those who would host applications from those who use them. The cloud provider backs up the data, provides a database and commodity virtualized servers to take the place of proprietary hardware. Networking too is being pushed onto the cloud where software based networking, the creation of new standards, and virtualization will reduce the number of network appliances you need to buy and maintain. It also reduces your dependence on costly experts, of which you need at least one for each of the many varied devices and their widely-divergent command-line syntax. People who advocate for standards say one should be able to type “go” into whatever network device using a common syntax.
If you are not already on using cloud solutions, study the benefits of moving there, and know that the transition can be piecemeal, in part or in whole. You define the limits of where your network ends and where the cloud infrastructure begins. You define who is responsible for what. The cloud just provides more options for those decisions.
When you decide on a cloud solutions strategy a cloud portal solution like LoadSpring Cloud Platform is totally intuitive, allowing everyone on your team to access applications, data, reports and dashboards—securely from anywhere in the world. This makes good business sense while allowing your project team to act with autonomous discretion. All without glitches, back-end issues or muttering obscenities under your breath.