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Look at the “Cloud” as an “Utility”

Look at the “Cloud” as an “Utility”

Dependence, reliability, usability and elasticity are some of the features that make such a vital service such as electricity, water and telephone.

Cloud is not just a technological upgrade to data centers, but a paradigm shift in how provisioned computing resources in the data center are utilized. Cloud, the servers are in the data centers. Therefore, cloud computing implies a significant change in the way we sell and consume products and information technology services and although many events and debates on the subject still hangs disbelief about its impacts. So I think it will be interesting to discuss a little more about the challenges that companies, both suppliers and consumers of technology, will face.

Decisions of when to adopt cloud require an analysis of the benefits versus the risks and effects of cloud computing in the enterprise. And the decision is directly related to the degree of maturity of the organization and culture of the company, and not just the technology available in the market.

If we look, we see that the current cloud delivery model of IT resources is similar to the way the electricity was in early last century. The industries had to build and maintain their energy generating sources, which was not their business. Today, most companies builds and maintains its own data center, even if it is not their field of expertise. The result – Many data centers are inefficient. The cloud computing model can potentially mitigate this inefficiency, allowing resources such as servers and storage, to be delivered and used as services like electricity. Now Cloud can be seen as a utility like electric power utility.

Let’s look at the points in common between a service utility, such as energy, water and telephone, and cloud computing.

What are the basic features of a service infrastructure, such as water, energy and telecommunications?

Early on, we remember the high dependence of the service. We cannot live without water or power. Just think about the effects of an electrical blackout in society, and the disorders that are caused.

Another feature is the reliability of the service. Water, for example, by opening the tap, our natural expectation is that the water fall. It is not expected that the service will not be available.

Usability is another feature. A tap is very easy to use. We only need to connect the plug of the electrical appliance to use them. A cell phone is something that a two year old knows how to use to make a call.

And, another important aspect of the elasticity, we pay for the services we consume and we know we can consume more or less. We consume a lot of energy in the summer, with attached air conditioners 24 hours a day, and leave the house in the dark when we leave on vacation.

For the service provider, there is another important feature that is the level of use. The provider must be able to manage the peaks and valleys because the demands of service users utility fluctuate widely in time. If he maintains a set infrastructure for peak demand, will bear a high cost. Moreover, if the infrastructure is insufficient, it will not meet the rapid growth in demand.

What about the business models? Basically, utilities charge for use ( pay-as-you-use ) such as water and energy, or signature, as broadband providers that offer unlimited services for monthly subscription.

Is the IT similar to most of the companies? The utilities of this model are very different. Until the issue of payment for use, will require greater maturity of processes and culture. IT is seen often as a cost center, not as a business generator.

What IT should do?

Understand the scenario and not go against, and there is much work ahead: for example, how to act in front of a failure in a public cloud. Users do not think about this subject, but will be dependent on their applications in a cloud that can go off the air. What to do? If a company put all your systems in a public cloud, you lose the technical expertise it holds today in your IT, and will be in the hands of the provider. Does this provider has sufficient expertise to address problems that may arise? This is an another issue that IT must act on now: select certified cloud hosting providers.

Other issues that need to be well evaluated when determined to adoption of cloud computing are the issues surrounding security, privacy and legal aspects. Security methods and processes change each time when the computational model changes. The Internet has become an integral part of business processes, and the methods adopted for internal security proved are insufficient and needs to be modified. With adoption of cloud computing, history is repeating itself. We have to rethink about many of the security processes that are currently used.

A public cloud provider may be the target of attacks as denial of service (DoS), and this attack can be directed to some specific targets. That is, the attack is not directed to the provider, but one of the clients within the provider. In this case, what is provider reaction on this situation? How IT can engage on security issues in cloud? Analyze and evaluate the providers security practices that suit the company’s compliance policies.

As we see, there is plenty of room to work in the IT world of cloud computing. So instead of fears, IT must see great opportunities in cloud computing, leaving aside activities that do not add value (install hardware and operating system) and considered as cost center, to be seen as a facilitator of new revenues and new business.

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