Where the Cloud Lives, Part 1

Sep 17, 2013 | Insights

Most people have heard about cloud computing, the catchall phrase that represents computing based on virtual resources. However, there are multiple flavors of cloud computing that can make the whole subject a little confusing. We’ll take a look at the two broad categories, public and private and tie in some directions, trends, and threats to make it all a little clearer. Because this is a really big topic, we’ll break it into a few chunks to make it easier to digest.

The evolution of where IT infrastructure lives

To run your business you need IT infrastructure like servers, storage and networks. And, it all needs space, power, cooling and security. In the past, organizations housed their IT infrastructure in their own offices. Eventually they began to outgrow their space or got to the point that any downtime represented significant lost revenue and impacted reputation. Along came the data center, first built by big companies that could afford it, then later by companies that offered to rent data center space, called colocation. Data centers enable reliable IT service delivery with purpose-built and hardened security, power, cooling and network infrastructure.

In the past, enterprise companies easily justified building their own data centers because they wanted to maintain complete control over their IT infrastructure. Commercial data centers simply weren’t available so they had to assume the responsibility and cost. Today, it is difficult for these companies to justify the capital expense as commercial data centers have proven themselves worthy of assuming the responsibility at a cost that can’t be ignored.

The Shift to Cloud Services – Rise of the Public Cloud

Software-as-a-Service providers were the trailblazers in a new world of online business: Enterprise applications in a pay-as-you-go model. SaaS providers were able to deliver CRM and BPM functionality in a way that eventually led to the NIST-defined 5 Essential Characteristics of Cloud Computing: on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity or expansion and measured service.

Once senior executives were able to experience the agility provided by true cloud computing, they wanted to employ it across their entire IT infrastructure, while maintaining the security, compliance, data control, and freedom from vendor lock-in that owning their own afforded. This gave rise to the private cloud – all of the flexibility of cloud computing coupled with the benefits of control.

Stay tuned for additional posts where we’ll talk more about the private cloud, cloud management, growth of the cloud and threats to the cloud.