What does a cloud offer? – Cloud: What is it?

Cloud has myriad of definitions, but one thing is clear that the IT industry is largely accepting it as the next phase of service delivery. Here, we tell you what it means

Cloud, cloud computing, software-as-a-service (SaaS), platfrom-as-a-service (PaaS), infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), hosting, cloud storage, private cloud, managed cloud, public cloud or hybrid cloud – there was a time when you would have drawn a blank face at the utterance of these terms. Today, they are no more aliens, and it is rare to meet someone who is closely, or even not so closely, associated with the world of information technology (IT) and has not yet come across them at some  point. Vikram Bhatia, Windows Azure Lead, Microsoft, says: “While talking to CXOs at a few medium to large enterprises about cloud, I was pleasantly surprised to see the change in the content of their concerns and queries over the last two years. Two years ago, the two most common questions I had to address were: (i) what is this “cloud” business? Isn’t that marketing jargon for hosting? And (ii) what about the security of my data?” True, cloud was a mere hype back then that not many CIOs were serious about and looked upon with caution. More so because the technology in itself was not clear, and moreover, the private/public/hybrid varieties only worsened the confusion. No, we are not getting into the private vs public vs hybrid cloud frontier. That is entirely a different game altogether, something we might take up later. For now, it is just cloud, without its prefixes and suffixes.

In an interview sometime back, Andy Jassy, senior VP, Amazon Web Services, had noted: “We find all those terms such as private cloud, public cloud, hybrid cloud, infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service, as a kind of overloaded and confusing terms. It is often the old world IT players, who talk about it, because private cloud protects the business or margin structure that they built over the past 30 years.” The frenzy back then was such that every second company wanted to reach out to the market with its ‘cloud services’. Even today, not all the CIOs are open to the idea, however, at least most of them agree that it is indeed a new form of doing one’s business. “A year later, I saw a shift happening. It is no longer about what is the cloud, but more about what can I effectively do with the cloud. The two most common queries I get today are: (i) is the cloud worth it for me? What about my existing investments (read hardware, software licenses or in-house apps)? And (ii) How will I manage cloud-based apps? Won’t this make my environment more complex? This shift in concerns tells me that the market has matured considerably and enterprises have evolved from being skeptics to adopters,” Bhatia adds.

There was a time when every executive one spoke to would have a definition or two of the cloud, which seemed more suitable to the service that they were trying to sell than something that a user wanted to hear. However, with time this has also changed. The IT industry has come to terms with technology and has started to accept it as the next phase of IT service delivery. We would try and bring to you what it means and why not all that shines out there is a cloud. To begin with here is a simple definition of what cloud is. Pradeep Agarwal, country head – India Enterprise, Google, said: “’Cloud computing’ refers to Internet-based computing, where software and information in data centres is sent over the Internet to computers, cellphones, and other devices. This technology enables people to quickly turn on applications and innovation like a utility, instead of having to install and run their own applications. Data can be accessed from any Internet-connected device.” And to put it in a simpler form, “The cloud is a service you use, not a system you build,” says Peter Coffee, VP and head, Platform Research, salesforce.com.

And if that is also not sufficient, here is a bit from its history. “What started as “co-location” a few decades ago, i.e. shared hosting of one’s servers in a third party data centre, soon evolved into ‘hosting’, which means servers owned and managed by a third party rented out to multiple organizations for running their business applications. The next stage in the evolution was outsourcing, or better yet, total outsourcing, which moved not only the machines and software, but also human resources and services to third parties. Cloud happened in the last few years, driven primarily by the need to drive down costs further through both scale and scope, but made possible because of technologies like virtualization and remote application management,” adds Bhatia.

Source: CIOL World

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.