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The benefits of cloud computing include flexibility and cost savings. Scalability of resources is really the key to its popularity of the cloud. The traditional approach to infrastructure divvies up servers and processing power based on the applications running in the organization. Resources become dedicated to applications, and usually, to allow room for growth, the servers are configured with way more capacity than is currently needed. And whenever a new application comes along the first reaction is to think about what dedicated hardware we need purchase to support it.
Cloud computing changes the focus from managing resources on a micro basis to more of a macro view. We no longer are checking on the health of the dedicated hardware for each and every application, we manage computing resources at a more abstracted and higher level. It makes a lot of sense, and a lot of people have come to see the value. In a recent report by the Yankee Group, 57 percent of respondents were positive about cloud computing and viewed it as an enabling technology.
When people drill down into what is involved with cloud computing as applied to the enterprise though, a lot of issues come up that are cause for worry. particularly data security and vendor lock-in. But that’s public cloud computing. With private cloud computing, security issues are not much different than with an infrastructure that uses dedicated servers. With the benefits of cloud computing and minimal security issues, private cloud computing can look attractive. In fact 70 percent of respondents to the Yankee Group survey said they would prefer to use private cloud computing compared to public cloud computing.
But hold on. Private cloud computing also implies that your IT organization will need to set up and manage your internal cloud resources. That’s easier said than done. In fact, a report by Forrester found that most organizations simply don’t have the knowledge or expertise to pull it off. They are operationally quite complex, and to adequately design and set one up requires a lot of expertise. To architect such a system you need to be able to apply knowledge from the areas of auto-provisioning, identity-based security, governance, use-based accounting, and multitenancy.
So that leads to an interesting push and pull of the IT skill set required by organizations. SaaS and public cloud computing promote the idea that IT responsibilities can be off-loaded to a vendor that specializes in computing infrastructure. In those cases, the need by that organization for specialized internal IT skills is not so great. But on the other end of the spectrum, there are some applications that want to keep sensitive data in-house and to then use technologies that maximize IT efficiencies like private cloud computing. To do that, those organization require very specialized and skilled resources. Obviously, organizations will need to balance the costs and benefits and arrive at some middle ground for the approach they take. And exactly which approach the organization ultimately takes will provide interesting insight into the overall nature of that organization.