CIO Cloud Computing 101: Who Are The Players?

by drjim on July 27, 2009

CIOs Need To Understand Cloud Computing

CIOs Need To Understand Cloud Computing

One of the great things about working in the IT field is that whenever things start to get boring, we have the ability to create new buzzwords and make things interesting all over again. The arrival of “Cloud Computing” on the scene a couple of years ago showed that this cycle has not gone away. Maybe it would be worthwhile to take a step back and make sure that we’re all on the same page here – what is cloud computing and why should anyone care?

The Many Flavors Of Cloud Computing

Neal Leavitt has spent some time studying cloud computing and has some thoughts for us.  A quick definition of just what cloud computing is might be a good place for us to start. In olden days (3 years ago), if you wanted to run an application you pretty much had to go out, buy a server, plug it in, load up the software, connect it to a network and then you were in business. Cloud computing changes all of that.

Now all you have to do is set up an account with a company who has already done all of the above steps. You can then load  your application onto their server(s) using the Internet to reach these servers and ta-da you are in business.

There are three main “flavors” of cloud computing that users are employing currently:

  • Thin Clients: allows you to minimize the processing power / storage needed by the end user’s computer and do the “heavy lifting” on servers and storage that are stored elsewhere.
  • Grid Computing: allows computers that may be located in completely different locations to be connected together in order to form a single virtual computing system. An example of this would be specialized image processing computers that were linked to a massive image storage system for processing.
  • Utility Computing: this is cloud computing in its purest form – CPUs for hire. You pay for what you use and you can use as much as you need. This is a great solution for firms that have seasonal spikes in the amount of data that they have to process.

Who Are The Cloud Computing Service Players?

The list of cloud computing service providers is long and seems to be getting longer every day. Here’s a partial list with a number of names that you’ll probably recognize…

Final Thoughts

Ok, so clearly this is not the final thought on Cloud Computing. I’ve got a lot more to cover with you, but this is a good place to quit for now. Cloud Computing was treated as a bit of a novelty when it first showed up. I mean, who would trust unreliable links to remote computers to run critical corporate apps?

Times have changed and the economics of Cloud Computing have also changed to make this a more attractive option. Every CIO needs to be thinking about how his / her IT shop is using computing resources right now and what role Cloud Computing could play in the future. Addressing this issue this will mean that 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

Have you spent any time thinking about using Cloud Computing yet? How long until you run out of room to add more servers to your company’s infrastructure? Have you calculated the total cost of ownership for the servers that you do have? Are your applications too critical to trust to a cloud? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

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?

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Rick Rene July 27, 2009 at 10:42 am

Another potential parelell, besides the Furby Craze, is the IBM OS/2 initiative. I remember for over a year, every computer magazine had like 5 articles on OS/2.

In the end, IBM failed to recapture the PC market as planned, although some great technologies came out of this initiative. I wonder if the “cloud computing” hype will end up being a bunch of great technology levers creatively using remote resources, but the term will die completely like OS/2?

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Dr. Jim Anderson August 1, 2009 at 12:07 am

Rick: I had almost forgotten about OS/2 – that just shows how quickly we forget the losers in these technology battles! The one thing that cloud computing does have going for it right now is that it may be a way for firms to save money. This is something that is especially important during these troubled economic times. However, you bring up a good point. Let’s see where all of this leads us to – a new architecture or just another over-hyped buzzword…!

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Rodolfo Ballman December 2, 2010 at 9:38 pm

This info is a first-class read. Thank you for the news.Thumbs up!!

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