Tuesday, May 5, 2009

What the heck is a cloud?

There is probably no bigger buzzword in IT today than "the cloud" or "cloud computing". So what the heck is it? For a pretty technical definition, here's an entry from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing

To put as simply as possible, cloud computing is the idea that IT (Information Technology, such as email, CRM, financials, filesharing, web sites) can be provided by an external company as opposed to being internally-managed technology (servers, software, networking, security, etc) that you own and maintain.

Why makes the cloud so hot?
#1 Cost Savings: Most organizations spend large amounts of money on staff and equipment to provide basic IT services. Typically, the cloud provider can aggregate many customers and provide those same services cheaper.

#2 Quality: Bringing together many customers also drives quality improvements. For example, internal staff often struggle to bring systems back online if there is a hardware or software problem. Cloud services are often far more immune to failure because the support staff is specialized in the services being provided.

#3 Speed: Implementing technology in-house is often slow since internal staff is unlikely to have one or more of the following: time, expertise, or equipment. The result is a long period of time it takes to bring on new services. By contrast, most cloud services can be turned on instantly.