Cloud computing continues to be a growing trend. According to a report by Gartner, cloud computing will define the bulk of IT spending by 2016. The report further postulates that by the end of 2017, nearly half of large enterprises will have large hybrid cloud deployments.
The world of cloud computing is constantly evolving, with interest shown across all levels of the organization. Cloud computing is no longer considered as a single concept: it has evolved into a rapidly expanding IT ecosystem, having its own potential benefits and possible pitfalls.
According to Gartner “Adoption of the cloud is rising rapidly – there’s no sign that it’s going back.”
Enterprises and ISVs have their own reasons for adopting the cloud services. Enterprises consume the services deployed in Cloud using Pay-per-use model. ISVs utilize cloud services for their product development and product hosting, so that they can offer their product as a service for market to consume. Cloud Computing can be the dominant way to define the technology but the leaders responsible for taking the decision should be well aware of the Cloud concepts, its benefits and risks.
According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the official definition of cloud computing is as follows:
“Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”
In other words, resources such as software, storage services, and platforms are delivered on demand to customers over the web.
There are different varieties of cloud computing services, however, the three most popular versions of cloud offerings are: Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).
SaaS: With SaaS, the cloud service provider hosts your enterprise applications and data on its servers and storage systems. Using a web browser, user gains access to the SaaS applications; there is also typically a monthly fee per user. A number of organizations are shifting away from the legacy model of delivering software to clients or delivering it internally to a SaaS model where software is easily available over the Internet.
PaaS: In this type of model, a platform and an environment is provided to allow users and developers to build applications and services over the web. A PaaS provider hosts the hardware and software on its own infrastructure.
IaaS: With IaaS, the cloud service provider will offer virtual machines, physical servers, storage, and connectivity resources to run the user’s applications on a pay-as-you-go basis. However, the user is responsible for installing and maintaining the operating system and application, while the provider is responsible for managing the infrastructure hardware.
Cloud computing comes in three forms: public, private and hybrid.
Public: A public cloud is based on the standard computing model; it is where a service provider makes resources, such as storage, available to the general public over the Internet. The main benefit of public cloud service is that it is easy and inexpensive to set up, can scale up or down to meet needs and there are no wasted resources as you pay for what you use.
Private: A private cloud, on the other hand, delivers the same advantages of a public cloud. What makes it different is that it delivers services to only a single organization. It offers hosted services to only a limited number of people behind a firewall. Private clouds allow organizations to have direct control over their data.
Hybrid: An increasing number of organizations are turning to the hybrid cloud model, which is where an organization provides and manages some resources in-house and have others provided externally. It is essentially a mix of private and public cloud services and it allows for greater flexibility and more deployment options for data.
The benefits that cloud computing gives to organizations are numerous, but some of the top benefits are:
- Increased Flexibility
- Almost Unlimited Storage
- Highly Cost Efficient
- Improved Backup and Recovery
- Automatic Software Integration
- Quick Deployment
…the list goes on.
The business world is extremely dynamic – it is constantly changing and evolving. With this in mind, cloud services allow for companies to quickly ramp up (or down) to meet business needs. It can also be used to alter the focus of IT resources to more higher value added activities for the organization. By taking the strategic decision of Cloud adoption, organizations can shift the financial pressure from CapEX to OpEX as there will not be any upfront investment for the infrastructure. Organizations will only pay the monthly expenses as per the monthly workloads. Cloud adoption often enables organizations to concentrate on their core business.
Cloud benefits vary for every organization depending upon various attributes, e.g., size of the organization, the usage etc. It is advised that Organizations take help of professionals to perform thorough assessment before taking the decision to move their applications or data center to cloud. Along with this, the cloud strategy also needs to be defined, which will define whether to go for Private Cloud or Public Cloud or Hybrid Cloud.
There are various Cloud Service providers who exist in the market and provide varied services. Choice of Service providers also should be part of the assessment phase. In order to reduce the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), pricing model and service packages offered by different service providers play an important role. Few aspects to consider are: Billing should be as granular as possible to get the maximum benefits. There should be the minimum initial cost, minimum charges for compute and storage services need to be assessed. Fixed costs need to be avoided as far as possible until and unless they provide high values in terms of advanced monitoring or professional services.
While assessing for Cloud adoption, it is very important to assess the performance, SLA (Service Level Agreement), quality of support and security factors from technology perspective and also from Service provider perspective.
Even Indian Government is paying lot of attention towards cloud computing and launching focused initiatives to plan and implement the cloud strategy.
GI Cloud initiative by Department of Electronics and IT (DeitY) called “MeghRaj”, is a national cloud initiative to help the government leverage cloud computing for effective delivery of e-services. “MeghRaj” gives the power to host websites, portal and web applications with the speed and scalability that business services demand. Using “MeghRaj”, government agencies can share IT services and are redefining their service models. MeghRaj can help Government agencies to increase their operational efficiencies and decreased the OPEX.
Container technology appears to be the next step leading to open clouds. The basic idea of containers is that it can be managed, operated, and administered in standard ways without having intimate knowledge of the payload. It essentially eliminates the need of virtualization by getting rid of the hypervisor and its VMs.
Towards the end of 2014, Amazon announced a new cloud service where software developers and businesses can build and operate their online applications using Docker, a new technology aiming to make online software more efficiently.
Amazon is not the only company embracing Docker, following in the steps of Microsoft and Google. One can visualize Docker as a shipping container for software running the web. These “containers” make it simpler for software to move from machine to machine and run it more efficiently on each one.
 “Gartner Says Cloud Computing Will Become the Bulk of New IT Spend By 2016,” Gartner, http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2613015
 “NIST Cloud Computing Program” NIST, http://www.nist.gov/itl/cloud/
Asoke K. Laha, Founder, President & CEO InterraIT Inc. and President & Managing Director of InterraIT India, has significant experience in starting and growing offshore development centers. Asoke’s career in high technology spans more than two decades. Previously a senior software manager in companies like Digital and GTE Communication Systems, he was also Managing Director at Cadence India, where he built a large team of skilled engineers. He won the Corporate Quality Award from Cadence and was responsible for the ISO 9000 certification earned by the Cadence India Center. He is the Executive Vice President and incoming National President of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC). Asoke is actively involved in various prestigious industry bodies like AMCHAM, ASSOCHAM to name a few.
He is a working committee member of the Software Export Promotion Council (“ESC”) and also represents the Noida Special Economic Zone (“NSEZ”) as the President of NSEZ Entrepreneurs Association. He has an MSEE from the University of Saskatchewan, an MS in Computer Science from Northwestern University and BE (Honors) from Jadavpur University, India.