Last week I had an opportunity to attend a session here in San Diego on cloud computing hosted by the San Diego Chapter of AITP. If I had any doubts of the significance and game changing implications of cloud computing before that session, rest assure, I am a true believer that cloud computing is well beyond the hype curve and will usher in a host of new applications and economic growth, limited only by our imaginations and abilities to create new value in response (and at this stage – anticipation) of what the market wants.
So what is cloud computing? Generally speaking cloud computing is the convergence of three major trends:
1) Virtualization where applications are separated from infrastructure. Can also be thought of as a “Platform as a Service.”
2) Utility Computing where server capacity is accessed across a grid (internet connections both wired and wireless) as a priced shared service. Can also be thought as “Hardware as a Service.”
3) Software as a Service where applications are available on demand on a subscription bases and accessed through a web browser.
Here’s a good presentation I found on YouTube that explains Cloud Computing Plan and Simple:
Most of us are already using SaaS in one form or another. The fact that I can access and manage my blog through my web browser is an example of SaaS. And of course there are other well known SaaS applications including Salesforce.com, a pioneer in the field and a host of email applications like gmail are further examples of SaaS.
The SaaS model provides convenience and efficiency for business customers, especially small to mid size firms, to implement powerful applications like CRM (Salesforce.com), without having to invest huge upfront dollars to purchase the solutions as well as support and manage the IT infrastructure including hardware and software integration and upgrades. From the application vendor’s perspective, the ease to improve, upgrade and continuously launch new functionality in response to market demands often (through agile techniques and VOC) is far more effective and efficient.
Utility computing (hardware as a service) provides yet another game changing shift in how companies will host and manage their applications. Instead of having to create your own data centers, companies can instead “buy on demand” computing power, storage and other services as required. The headaches of having to scale rapidly as your application takes off (a nice problem though) is virtually eliminated with HaaS. Not to mention the significant reduction in cost – virtually no cap ex is required – driving hardware cap ex to zero. Now granted it you will pay for what computing resources you use – but the flip side is that you don’t pay for what you don’t use either – and your application is being hosted on world class and fortified data centers. Say goodbye to your messy and expensive IT server and data rooms.
A company leading the way in HaaS is Amazon – that’s right, the e-tailer that sells books and consumer items. If you are interested in learning more about Amazon Web Services, check it out at http://aws.amazon.com.
And finally, a real exciting aspect of cloud computing (at least from my perspective) is the realization of pervasive computing where information and data is available anywhere, anytime; enabling the extension of processing power into everyday scenarios. For example, have you used your smart phone to access the internet lately? Or used your smart phone to give you directions? Or down load music or even your favorite TV show? You get the point. The data and information is available to you anywhere there is an internet connection – and internet connections are currently pervasive and approaching “everywhere” soon.
Some people also say pervasive computing is synonymous with ubiquitous computing – where every imaginable object has the ability to share information and act upon the information. Whether you want to make a distinction between ubiquitous or pervasive computing is left for a future discussion over a beer for another time(maybe in a virtual bar in the cloud). My predictions of the future isn’t much better than anyone else (I once predicted rap music was a flash in the pan) but I believe the ability to connect things, from computing devices down to wearable medical devices will result in new ways of “seeing” things, and will enable disruptive innovations and game changing applications.
I look forward to the future and seeing all the new innovations that await us. I would love to hear about your innovations too.
Cheers room the clouds,