A Cloud setup by its very nature has a huge setup in place typically comprising of hundreds if not thousands of servers running a wide variety of operating systems, virtualized platforms and databases. The network would also be no ordinary feat but would have some of the finest equipments with fibre gigabit transfer rates and high end security systems. Datacentre would again be at least a Tier 2+ if not a Tier 3/4. What this translates into is:
1. Specialised personnel: Since the entire business model is based on providing IT resources, Cloud providers can afford to hire and most importantly retain some of the finest skillsets available in the industry. For many organizations, this is a Huge Boon since most organizations are unable to attract and retain highly skilled resources. It’s not rare to see organization spending large sums on IT Infrastructure but unable to derive due benefits due to lack of skilled resources.
2. Opex NOT Capex: In many countries, organizations purchasing IT equipments for internal consumption – “Capex – Capital Expenditure” cannot take immediate tax benefits by writing off expenditure, but get staggered benefits spread over 5 years. Employing the resources of a Cloud provider, the money paid for Cloud resources get classified as “Opex – Operational Expenses” which result in immediate tax benefits.
3. Platform support: Many organizations are unable to rollout patches ontime or even identify the applicable patches due to various reasons such as lack of adequate knowledge base, lack of time or most important – the lack of adequate testing infrastructure. These shortcomings are not in place for most Cloud providers thus ensuring that the platforms and applications that you are using on their Cloud are adequately up-to-date. This is a two edged sword since this very point has also been observed as a weakness in some Cloud providers whom we have audited. In some organizations who have fairly mature processes in place, they ensure that the internal system updates, etc happens on time and are adequately tested but the same cannot be said in a guaranteed manner for the Cloud providers due to lack of visibility and transparency… will be covered in detail with mitigation strategies in my next articles on the subject.
4. Backup and recovery: Again a bane in many organizations… many organizations take regular backups but very very few organizations ever do the important step of regular restoration to check the working and adequacy of the backups leading to last minute unpleasant surprises. Cloud providers have this step pat in place since the repercussions of a mess-up will be fatal for their existence. This again is a two edged sword dependent on the policies of the Cloud provider which may or may not be sufficient for your organizational requirements… will be covered in detail with mitigation strategies in my next articles on the subject.
5. Disaster Recovery: Very important for most organizations but very regularly side-stepped or watered down in approach. By the very virtue, Redundancy and disaster recovery capabilities are built into cloud computing environments. Again, two edged sword dependent based on the policies and implementation strategy of the Cloud provider which may or may not be sufficient for your organizational requirements… will be covered in detail with mitigation strategies in my next articles on the subject.
6. Thin Clients: Since application and data (in most cases) will be residing on the cloud infrastructure; you will not be needing power house laptops and desktops to run your applications. This also means that not much confidential data will reside on your internal systems thus cutting down on your Information Risk factors. Again, two edged sword dependent based on the policies of the Cloud provider and your implementation topology which may or may not be sufficient for your organizational requirements… will be covered in detail with mitigation strategies in my next articles on the subject.
7. Power Savings: Last year Pike Research found that cloud computing could lead to a 38 percent reduction in worldwide data center energy use by 2020, compared to what the growth of data center energy consumption would be without cloud computing. Another study from Microsoft, Accenture and WSP Environment and Energy last year found that moving business applications to the cloud could cut the associated per-user carbon footprint by 30 percent for large, already-efficient companies and as much as 90 percent for the smallest and least efficient businesses.
I have by far exceeded the word limit for my article… time to take a break… rest assured that upcoming articles will contain a lot more thoughtful insights and loaded with experience insights.