I have been working with Cloud Computing for some time now in various roles: consultant, instructor, end user. A common comment I hear from clients is that they see Cloud Computing as nothing new, just as repackaged hosting services that have been around for many years. Lets consider Infrastructure as a Service as an example. Before Cloud Computing, if I wanted a server to host a Web application, I would go to Rackspace or a similar organisation and rent a server from them. With the cloud, I can do the same but can go to Rackspace and start the server myself and when I no longer need it stop and and am billed automatically for the hours I have used. Essentially, I have the same IT service that has always been available, just it is commissioned in a different way. However, there are subtleties that make Cloud Computing different. What if the load on my server increases to the extent the server cannot handle the workload ? With the cloud, I could enable auto scaling to automatically provision more servers to handle the workload. Whilst self provisioning, autoscaling, pay per use are some of the main benefits that are used to sell Cloud Computing, I believe the marketing hype is hiding many other benefits.
What is really new and exciting about Cloud Computing are the facilities and services it provides that were never available before. As a starting point, the way applications are architected can be/should be very different using cloud services. The availability, reliability, performance and scalability can be much better provisioned for by utilising the loosely coupled message driven architectures. Amazon, google and Microsoft as examples all provide a set of services that facilitate the building of applications with the above mentioned characteristics. The way that data is stored and managed in the cloud also offers new exciting ways of working. No longer is a relational database the obvious choice for cloud hosted applications, it may well be the correct choice but there are many other options available under the label ‘Big Data’ that may provide better solution for any given requirement.
So in summary, it is very easy to see the cloud as nothing new technically, just a different way of buying IT services. This is partially true if the things being compared are your typical current IT systems. However, delving deeper into the cloud services available quickly reveals an incredibly rich set of Cloud Only services that provide resources for building applications in ways that are far better than could ever be achieved on non-cloud infrastructures and for storing data in more efficient and logical structures for processing than relational databases. Exploited to the full, these enable businesses to gain significant competitive advantage. If you are interested in gaining an in depth understanding of the different services available from Cloud Computing, why not consider attending Learning Tree’s introductory Cloud Computing course. It will highlight what is different about Cloud Computing and why it can provide significant technical and business benefits for your organisation.
As cloud computing continues to make information technology headlines, vendors are aggressively promoting the many benefits it can provide organizations. Our White Paper, Cloud Computing Promises: Fact of Fiction , addresses the claims and questions that are often raised in relation to cloud computing and provides a clear view of what the cloud can—and can’t—deliver in reality.