Five Reasons Why Cloud Matters

Over the years, there have been many waves of innovation, and cloud comes at a time when advances in software, hardware and services combine to make something new and original possible. This article discusses the value proposition of cloud services and its importance to the future of IT based on the top benefits and trends that are seen today regarding cloud services. The top five paybacks are centered on time, costs, ease of use, operations and best practices.

Time Saving

One area where cloud computing is shown to save time is provisioning of computer resources. Significant time is saved due to the speed of using virtualized resources versus provisioning real servers, firewalls and load balancers. Since there is a high degree of virtualization in cloud computing, servers and other physical resources are set up ahead of time so time isn’t spent waiting for physical devices to arrive. Instead, a shorter amount of time is spent running the scripts that provision VMs, network connections, software and other needed resources.

Another important area is the self-service request. This request saves time for the user because he or she does not have to wait for someone else to satisfy the request. This isn’t so much a labor saving but a convenience related to scheduling.

Another area related to time saving comes from using patterns for middleware, database and application development. Time’s spent setting up the patterns and related models for the kind of hardware and software needed but, after that, users experienced significantly faster time to create and deploy middleware and database platform support, as well as environments to support workloads like application development, collaboration and analytics. They also experience fewer start-up errors and benefit from standardization of using a set of already designed and sanctioned templates.

Using built-in services like monitoring and patch management, accounting of software licenses and security compliance also saves time. The content of these time savers varies by the service provider and, in some cases, has offsetting user obligations, but nevertheless offloads the primary burden of the task to the service provider. Typically, the service provider can make use of economies of scale that are hard to match for an individual IT department resulting in cost and time-saving advantages.

Automated delivery is another way to save time and reduces errors. Automated delivery comes from cloud applications that identify, as part of their deployment definitions, what to do when performance suffers due to high transaction rates. These definitions often spin off a new instance of the application on a new VM to handle the peak workload. When the work drops off, the VM can be shut down, saving the cost of CPU and memory to support it when it’s no longer needed. This saving is possible because in cloud services you generally pay for what is used.

Reduced Costs

One primary cost saving in cloud comes from the fact that shared tenancy lowers costs through increased utilization of resources. High utilization makes it possible to support more applications on fewer servers lowering space, power, software and other costs.

In cloud computing, costs are reduced related to procurement, maintenance, support and upgrades because highly virtualized environments are procured once and used to satisfy many subsequent provisioning requests. In many cloud service models, there is cost saving passed on to the consumers, as there are typically no one-time charges, only monthly charges based on what you actually use. This is a dramatic cost improvement over paying upfront for hardware and software and then paying monthly charges that don’t align with usage patterns.

Development costs are lower in cloud because the widespread use of patterns saves development and test time. Development is also burdened with fewer errors because of standardization. Patterns have some upfront development cost, creating new patterns or modifying vendor-supplied templates, but once the main development patterns are identified, costs are reduced from each use of the tested and robust patterns, models and templates.

Ease of Use

Some cloud solutions have easy-to-use orchestration tools that make it straightforward to build layers of software on top of the virtualized hardware resources. The software handled through a process called orchestration includes the key middleware and databases used by the cloud application. These elements are included in a platform as a service that can be quickly assembled as part of cloud services. Cloud services that have built-in integrated management services offer simplicity that makes it easy to administer the necessary monitoring and management definitions and controls.

Some cloud solutions actually make it possible for line-of-business users to create their own applications including provisioning of the supporting platforms and infrastructure.

Simplified Data Center Operations and Operational Excellence

Cloud services often come with standardized and comprehensive monitoring. Also, many repetitive services are highly automated, e.g., the provisioning of new virtual images. Automation reduces deployment time and increases consistency. Automation also makes it possible to scale up and down computing resources in response to workload needs as virtualization provides improved flexibility to adjust resources as needed.

Improved Best Practices

Cloud computing offers the opportunity for highly standardized operating procedures. This is assisted by patterns and vendor-supplied templates as a way to increase consistency and reduce errors and deployment time. Well-defined cloud application models also ease the burden of application development. Simplification and standardization are the characteristics of the best cloud services.

Cloud’s Future

There is wide-scale agreement that cloud services are an important part of the future of IT. Cloud services evolved from some of the best ideas in IT like standardization and automation and have re-emerged at a time when hardware and software maturity makes new ways of doing things possible and practical.

There are many cloud services in the marketplace, both public and private, as well as many cloud tools and applications that make a compelling case that today’s IT companies and consumers are betting that cloud has an important place in the future of IT.

Joseph Gulla is the IT leader of Alazar Press, an imprint of Royal Swan Enterprises. Previously, he was an executive IT specialist at IBM ending his 28-year career with the company in August 2012.

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