Not really. First of all, unless you live in a cave (and a pretty remote one at that) you started using the cloud a long time ago. You use it every time you send or receive an email or look something up on the Web. You may be using it to stream movies, TED talks, cat videos and bicycle stunts. It’s where you go to participate in multiplayer games, to update social media and to access services like Dropbox or Salesforce. In fact, if your link to the cloud went down, you’d likely be limited to what’s on your desktop, laptop or tablet, and maybe what’s on the servers down the hall. You’d have to do a whole lot more phoning, snail mailing and walking to your colleague’s desk, and you’d be functioning more or less the way primitives did back in the 1980s. In other words, you already rely heavily on the cloud. We all do.
Take a closer look at the cloud...
Meet Clyde Ludd of XYZ Manufacturing based in the upper Midwest. Clyde manages technology operations at the plant, which is one of the few remaining facilities in the world where cassette tapes are built and distributed.
Unlike all other area manufacturers who have long outsourced their power needs to the large energy companies, XYZ Manufacturing runs a group of 24 generators wired in a custom-built grid that can tolerate up to four simultaneous generator failures. A large gas barrel is positioned at each corner of the generator array, with twice-daily refills trucked in from the local gas company.
“My business is simply too important to trust to some far-off electrical company that shares its infrastructure with thousands of other users,” Clyde says angrily when asked about his unique setup. “What can they do if their power fails? Nothing. But I stay up and running. If a generator goes out, I just run to the store and get another one.”
Ludd has the same philosophy about the newly-popular Cloud Computing concept, in which onsite servers are replaced with computing power in remote data centers. “That’s just dumb!” he laughs. “I’ve got everything I need on this thumb drive here in my desk,” he says, motioning at an empty drawer that he opens and shuts while speaking. Behind him, two dusty computers are running on a steel table. “I have a guy that comes in every week to apply patches and to ensure that everything is okay. I think it’s almost time to add another computer, but we can’t figure out how to get Windows Server 2012 to interoperate with the Windows 98 systems that I’m already running here.”
There are a variety of cloud options available to individuals and businesses today. From private clouds to public clouds and even virtual private clouds, there is sure to be an option that will fit your needs for easy access to resources and to maintain your privacy. Which cloud option is right for you? Read on to find out.
The demands on IT operations for applications, processing, storage, and reporting never stop growing, and when growth is measured in square feet, that can be costly. Fortunately, increasing capability doesn’t necessarily require corresponding growth in data center size. In fact, it may be possible to shrink the facility even while capacity expands, reducing costs of power and cooling along with “real estate” requirements.
Moving to the cloud is a big decision. It will change the way you operate, but because IT is changing—technology is becoming more user-driven—that may happen anyway. The good news is that the cloud lets IT outsource some of the least strategic aspects of their operations and focus on those that are most unique to the company, making IT (and IT staff) more valuable corporate resources.