Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cloud Computing - A Primer

"Cloud computing" buzz is everywhere.  Google it.  Bing it.  Go to Twitter.  Go to Link-in.  Heck, go try  Facebook and you will  find fan pages around cloud computing!

According to Wikipedia, cloud computing is defined as "Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software and information are provided to computers and other devices on-demand, like a public utility."  With a web browser, anytime, anywhere, you could access applications which link up your workforce and organisational workflows.  And the beauty of it?  Pay as you use.  With the economy in its current shape, the metered pay as you use model makes perfect business financial sense.  

Now take a tour round with this "Cloud Computing Plain and Simple" video.

Tinkernut also has a nice tutorial around "Basic Cloud Computing".  See the video below.

Market Players
There are also many different players in the cloud computing marketspace under 3 broad categories.
1. Software (example: Google Apps, - using your apps elsewhere
2. Platform (example: Microsoft's Azure) - building your apps elsewhere
3. Infrastructure (example: Amazon EC2) - hosting your solution elsewhere

In the region, we also have regional consortiums like Alatum which was formed by the Singtel group and leading SaaS and technology partners who will deliver software, computing power and storage as a pay-per-use, on-demand, on-line services to customers.

Cloud computing is not a new breakthrough in today's markets. It has been around ever since we have larger broadband pipes, faster internet and computing speeds and the inherent need for businesses, especially now more so, to scale up in the global markets, whilst maintaining a tight rein on costs.

There is no one-size-fits-all cloud computing solution. And there are evident risks to contend with in terms of data security and integrity, which comes from composing enterprise functionality from disparate services that are all integrated into the platforms and infrastructure of external service providers. Strong governance, vendor management and contract definition through SLAs will be required to ensure accountability, tracing issues to resolutions and most important of all, that the business benefits are realised by the investing organisations. And so, I really like the Burton Group's definition of "cloud computing" as:
The set of disciplines, technologies, and business models used to deliver appropriately managed IT capabilities as a service.

I would like to conclude with the following questions, which are begging for follow up conversations.
- What and how have your experiences with cloud computing been?
- Do you have any case studies you could share? 
- Are there any implications from enterprise social media tools like Yammer, Chatter, Microsoft's OfficeTalk in organisations as organisations move into cloud computing? 
- How about mobile access to cloud computing tools?

In the meantime, do check out the following references for more on cloud computing:
1. Cloud Computing in Plain English Video (in 3 mins)
2. Burton's Group videos on Cloud Computing
3. Microsoft's "What is Windows Azure"
4. What is Cloud Computing?
5. Cloud Services: Expand on Demand [newly added 6-March-2012] - jargon-free cloud marketing copy

Nelson Wee
or see you @nelsonwee

Photo credit: DavidErickson / / CC BY-NC


Casey Knox said...

Great article! Webster even has 'cloud computing' listed as a nominee for 'Word or the Year" along with wrap rage, netbook, distracted driving, wallet biopsy, and go viral.

Nelson Wee said...

Hi Casey,

Thanks for dropping by. Indeed with lots more getting into the cloud these days - social and entertainment apps, gaming, enterprise solutions, market is getting very crowded and quality of service expectations very high.

Nelson Wee