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Why Cloud Now?
Why is cloud computing the most disruptive change in the last two decades?
If you think about it, cloud computing, in some form or another, has been around for a long, long time. The technology is more or less what you would find on premise in a company's data center, and there isn't much new on the hosting end either; managed service companies have been offering something you might think of as cloud computing's predecessor for over a decade.
So what's new? Start with the layers of cloud solutions, which have formed a virtual ecosystem or what many now call the cloud stack.
From Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) delivering remote computing cycles and storage to Platform as a Service (PaaS) empowering customers with accelerated development tools and middleware to Software as a Service (SaaS) providing turnkey business applications to Managed Services Providers (MSPs) who help bring all the pieces together, the Cloud stack delivers symbiotic and synergistic solutions for many IT needs.
Contract are also new. The original contracts for this type of service were pretty cut and dried. A company would rent a computing function or cycle for a specified period of time, with a set usage pattern, and pricing. Cloud computing breaks through that rigid structure, offering almost unlimited choices. Companies can pay as they go for specific services, and the entire model is self-service. That means companies can choose what they want, when they want, via easy-to-use user interfaces.
Also, cloud-based offerings are often very dynamic in nature, and can increase the computing availability—or decrease it— on demand. That's in large part due to the increased emphasis by vendors on uptime, redundancy, security and scalability. These vendors have focused strongly on creating a dynamic computing infrastructure, often built on a platform of virtualized servers, which can be provisioned or decommissioned quickly.
Finally, cost is king, and cloud computing is generally a good bargain. Companies that are looking to minimize their capital expenditures—and they all are—have to at least consider cloud computing. As Dan Kusnetsky, vice president of The 451 Group, puts it, "When we get to a place where the costs are at a level where a local manager can make a decision and the revenue or signatory authority will more than cover it, people do it. And we're there."
All of this means that cloud computing is here to stay, and if your company isn't on board, it will be soon. A recent study by IDC, funded by EMC, predicts that one-third of all digital information will pass through the cloud by 2020. That's an astounding statistic, but one that may not be far off.
Of course, there are still control freaks, but even they are beginning to come around. It's difficult to avoid cloud computing at this point. Unlike other technologies, cloud computing has been adopted from the ground up, starting with small organizations with little IT expertise, moving to mid-sized companies, and now, even infiltrating the largest organizations. Some are holding back, concerned about meeting regulatory compliance or security, but it's probably inevitable. Just like virtualization. Remember that? Now, it's everywhere, and it's not going away anytime soon.