Opinion: Understanding the Cloud?

Kevin Mortimer from Triple4 gives us his understanding of cloud computing and concept surrounding it

October 12, 2011

By Kevin Mortimer, Managing Director, Triple4

The Information and Communications Technology industry is a cauldron of buzzwords and new initiatives. Regularly the CIO and IT decision makers in a business are inundated by new waves of technologies, opinions and thoughts and it is becoming increasingly more challenging sifting through the buzz words and TLAs (three letter acronyms) in an attempt to separate the valuables from the crazes and the phases.

A common word to flash across our screen in emails, social media feeds, IT provider marketing and web content is “The Cloud”. It has caused a massive hype and is still making a lot of noise. But what is this cloud and what does it mean for you as the consumer, the IT decision maker or the IT adopter?

Cloud has actually been around for a very long time. Every single IT model has involved the concept of the indefinable and unknown components managed and serviced by a third party supplier, which could not be articulated or explained for various reasons; such as the supplier not confiding that information or the consumer not needing to understand that portion of their infrastructure or application stack and as such not needing to explain or worry about it.

So the concept is nothing new, but what is new is how it’s being packaged and presented to the consumer. ICT for the first time in its long history is now taking the stance of saying that the consumer should not need to worry about the details of the services they subscribe to.

Why should IT not be like a telephone service or like your electricity supply? Plug yourself into the provided service and start consuming, paying only for what you use.

Why should you concern yourself with the complexities of how your IT service originated or what challenge present itself with the supporting and management of that service?

It’s not like you concern yourself with how power is created, only that it is and that you have someone to contact when it doesn’t.

All of this is very exciting and promises much for the future. Businesses can reassign many of their daily operational overheads to other areas in greater need of attention and focus on the core of their business. On demand services by their definition are more scalable and flexible, even reducible when the next recession hits or when the organisation downscales.

As with all utopian concepts one should, however, exercise some caution. Rushing headlong into the adoption of cloud can be disastrous for the integrity of your company’s data and ability to respond unless the move is planned, phased and has a strong failback plan.

Consider all the implications of your move carefully. How secure is my data? Am I ceding any data sovereignty with my move? Is my data fully protected and recoverable? What compliancy and governance rules am I breaking? How do I check if my cloud services provider is delivering according to his advertised mandate? What recourse do I have if he isn’t? And what is my Service Level Agreement? How sticky is my engagement with the provider?

There are many more considerations but luckily there are solution providers out there that have prepared themselves for this cloud initiative and can assist with the process of evaluation and adoption.

The future of IT is bright, and this initiative has all the makings of actually delivering what is being advertised.

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