One of the most popular topics in IT today is “Cloud”. It seems that everyone, every company, is interested in Cloud and Cloud Computing but what exactly does that mean? What is Cloud Computing? When I get asked about Cloud Computing and the excitement around, I always think of what it was like 10-15 years ago, when everyone and their mother was excited and interested in the “Internet” but few knew what that meant or how it would impact them. Hopefully, I can help you down the road of understanding on Cloud Computing.
At a high level, what defines Cloud Computing is the ability and capability to leverage a pool of resources to deliver applications and services. It is about moving past managing applications and services at a specific resource level, such as computers or servers or even memory & disk space, but managing at an application capability level and being able to expand or shrink that level on demand, using that shared resource pool. This defines Cloud Computing at the “How it Works” level but how we really define Cloud Computing at Microsoft is at the “What it Means” and “How it Impacts” level.
Cloud Computing is really about delivering IT as a Service, the idea of managing and delivering applications and services for business value and impact, as opposed to focusing on where those applications and services run or what level they run on. “What it Means” is that Cloud Computing gives companies the capability to be more flexible, more agile, in meeting the needs of the business. This is because the Cloud removes the traditional limitations and boundaries associated with allocating or moving services. Once those restriction are removed, it becomes second nature for IT to respond to specific requirements of the business. Thus, changes and optimization become part of the standard run of the business and the time that IT used to spend being reactionary can now be used to be innovative and forward thinking.
In terms of “How it Impacts,” Cloud Computing has the direct impact of reducing CapEx spend on new hardware and new software. IT becomes more focused on how the software and hardware works together, rather on what new versions or features need to be deployed and the associated work on deploying those updates. Cloud Computing creates that organic pool of resources, allowing IT to be more immune to specific failures in hardware and software, since the service as a whole remains up and running.
Currently, Cloud is often defined by where the services are run (with Enterprises, with Regional Providers, or with Global Providers) or what level they run on (Infrastructure as a Service [IaaS], Platform as a Service [PaaS], or Software as a Service [SaaS]). Customers are looking to decide what path, what location, what level is best for them. What Microsoft Cloud Computing enables is all of these possibilities, with best possible set of solutions, providing the best value for customers. IT as a Service compasses all these different layers and configurations and Microsoft provides this full solution that no other vendor can match. To better understand what Microsoft offers for IT as a Service, I suggest this whitepaper that explains all the different terms, configurations, and components needed.
Just like the Internet example I started wtih, Cloud Computing is not one path or one use but a complete set of solutions. How companies leverage Cloud Computing will drive business value for years to come. Microsoft is here to work with you to start you on the Cloud journey and provide the solution you need for today, tomorrow, and for the future.