CIO Cloud Computing 101: Why Use The Cloud?

By Dr. Jim Anderson

CIOs Need To Make Sure That Cloud Computing Is Not Just A Fad
CIOs Need To Make Sure That Cloud Computing Is Not Just A Fad

Does anyone besides me remember the big Furby craze that swept the U.S. in the early ’90’s? People went crazy for these little plush dolls and they started collecting them in hopes that they would one day be valuable. Well, that never happened and a lot of people got stuck with expensive toys that they couldn’t get rid of. Is is  possible that the current cloud computing craze in IT could be another Furby fad that will fade away?

What Kind Of Services Come In A Cloud?

If a CIO can move beyond the hype, he/she needs to spend some time doing their homework in order to find out what kind of services a cloud could offer that their company could make use of. Neal Leavitt has spent some time studying cloud computing and has boiled cloud services down into four types of services:

  • Basic Services: this is not glamorous, but it may be the most popular type of service that a cloud environment can offer to your business. Basically simple Internet based services such as database functionality and capacity, middleware, and additional storage are used to supplement what your company already has.
  • IaaS: Buzz word alert – “Infrastructure As A Service”. This is when you are renting a complete computer (CPU, storage, bandwidth, etc.) that you access via the Internet. You would use this infrastructure to run your company’s applications on lock-stock-and-barrel.
  • PaaS: Platform-as-a-service – provides your firm with a development environment that your IT staff can use to create new applications for the rest of the company (and your customers) to use. This is computer plus development tools.
  • SaaS: Software-as-a-service – this is where you don’t care about what the software is running on, you just want to purchase access to the application. The most famous example of this is’s CRM application.

Why Bother With A Cloud?

The Forrester research company has done some investigating and they now claim that most company’s data centers are using less than 50% of their total capacity. Despite the hype that is currently surrounding cloud computing, Leavitt has uncovered three very good reasons for looking into having your firm start to use cloud computing:

  1. Availability: interestingly enough, despite many firm’s misgivings about losing control over their IT equipment, there is a lot to be said to having a professional firm that has the deep pockets needed for redundant systems and tested disaster recovery plans run your IT infrastructure. If you work at a small or even a medium sized firm, this may be especially valuable to you.
  2. Integration Of Applications: sorry, we can’t do anything about those old apps that you are running. However, the new ones that are developed to run in the cloud will almost automatically be easy to integrate because they will use the suite of Web interface languages/tools  (SOAP, XML, etc.) that make this easy to do.
  3. Flexibility: unlike the majority of cell phone vendors in the U.S., currently most cloud computing service providers don’t require users to sign long term contracts that lock them in. This makes it easy to quickly get more cloud resources when your firm needs them.

Final Thoughts

It is all too easy for CIOs who are adverse to change to look at the current excitement over cloud computing and decide that it is yet another fad that will fade away in time. The reality is that cloud computing provides several different types of services that are useful to any IT department. This can’t be ignored.

Additionally, successfully adding cloud computing resources to the company’s existing IT infrastructure will mean that a CIOs will have found a way to apply IT to enable the rest of the company to grow quicker, move faster, and do more.

Questions For You

How much of your existing IT infrastructure do you think that your firm is currently using – more or less than 50%? Which of the four types of cloud computing services would have the most immediate value to your company? Why? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Cloud computing is all the rage these days and everyone who is anyone is making plans to implement at least some flavor of it as soon as possible. It turns out that the decision to go with a cloud computing solution for your IT department might not be as simple as some would lead you to believe. There are challenges to successfully using a cloud and we need to talk about them…