Cloud computing is simply the consolidation and abstraction of previous disparate computing infrastructure. In the past computing infrastructure and servers for web applications, web sites, databases, and more had to be purchased and managed in an in-house data center. This places a heavy burden the upfront cost of IT projects. Cloud computing changes this and puts the control back in the hands of creative innovators.
- Cost surprises
- Implementation complexity
- Staff disruption
Cloud computing was initially pioneered by internet retailing giant Amazon.com. In 2006 they started selling spare computing cycles in their data-centers with the launch of Amazon Web Services. This innovation has allowed start-ups to rapidly prototype and deploy ideas to the web by essentially renting computing time in a cloud provider’s data-center. By only paying for what is needed new ideas and products could be quickly scaled if successful or abandoned if not. Managers may leverage iterative operational feedback without the upfront investment in costly IT infrastructure. Economies of scale is leverage on the energy consumption and sustainability front. As usage changes resources may be elastically scaled based on need. Applications based in India may use the same infrastructure used in America while the later sleeps, and vice versa.
There are many advantages to cloud computing, but it is no panacea. The overall complexity of an IT system needs to be taken into account before a decision is made to move it up to a cloud provider. Depending on the industry regulations may need to be considered with respect to IT infrastructure. To save money it’s important to ensure that you have done a complete total cost comparison. Cloud computing is not always cheaper. Consideration of in-house IT staff resources should be considered to avoid stress related to redundancies. An incremental or piece-meal migration strategy may be the best option for most to avoid costly implementation mistakes. Leveraging a competent IT department is the key to success when formulating and implementing a cloud strategy. Tread carefully and wisely to succeed.