Cloud computing is a game changer. Gone are the times, when you had to put up an upfront investment (CAPEX) for technology and hire expensive personnel to mind it. This whole process has been abstracted away by the Cloud. You can now rent the resources that you need on a pay-per-use basis and further, let the Cloud vendor manage the administration issues like cleaning up, uploading patches etc. You can have guaranteed SLA’s (Service Level Agreements) where the Cloud vendor would provide you with uptime, disaster recovery, scaling, among many other features. This model works very well for SME’s (Small / Medium Enterprises) who don’t have the money to set up a datacentre or an IT backbone. Also the Cloud provides a means of outsourcing your day to day low priority activities to a Public Cloud. There are many programs available on the Cloud for CRM, SCM, ERP, HRIS and other company requirements. These have been proven to work well and save the customer a lot of headache. There are many vendors out there who have solutions to hard pressed problems.
However the Cloud doesn’t guarantee you Nirvana, yet. There are issues pertaining to Security like Privacy, Data Misuse, Downtime due to hacks etc, that can take the shimmer away from all the hype. The pundits have a solution – it’s called a Private Cloud. This is nothing but your Cloud in your own datacentre. On your own terms. You may also have a Private Cloud in a Co-located data centre and have a VPN connection which will ensure the privacy of your connections. Your data is in your own hands and you are guaranteed a good night’s sleep. However having a Private Cloud is like having your own baby. You yourself are responsible for it. Which means having your own datacentre, keeping people to maintain it and further administration of the same. It can also prove to be an expensive proposition. In case you feel that you have to have full control over your programs and data, the only option available is a Private Cloud.
If you feel that some of your data is not as important as others, you can put this part on a Public Cloud and have the important part in a Private Cloud. This arrangement is termed as a Hybrid Cloud. Sometimes the requirement is such that you may want to have your incremental data on a Public Cloud. This combination of Public and Private Cloud where the incremental data, when the Private Cloud runs out of resources, is streamed to the Public Cloud, is termed Cloud Bursting. This is done in order to ensure scaling, like say Holiday season traffic on your website.
One advantage of Cloud Computing is that it leverages the use of various resources that you have through a process called Virtualization. This in simple terms is a process of allocating your resources over a broad range of programs. For example, earlier you used to run your ERP on a different system compared to say your HRIS system. Now with virtualization, both the programs can sit on the same server timesharing it. This is a concept that was prevalent in the mainframe era. Each instance of a package (Say ERP or CRM) runs it’s own Virtual Machine (VM) and if one crashes, it does not affect others. The other advantage is optimum use of your resources (Compute / Memory / Storage / Network) which will make sure that you extract the juice out of them fully.
For those who are just starting to build their business, the Cloud may be a good option to look for. And for those who have existing systems, where the costs are already sunk-in, the cloud may provide a solution to their future growth plans. The decision for weighing in a Private / Public / Hybrid Cloud solely lies on your existing situation. Maybe you are not yet ready to move to the Cloud now, but keep it in your radar. Because the promise of the Cloud is both alluring as well as appalling. Do the math and trust the gut to make your calling.
Good Luck !