PART II – Hyperbole in the cloud: Welcome to the Wild, Wild West

Last time I started to lay the groundwork for my argument that cloud computing has a very bright future. Picking up where I left off, here are several more technical and business trends that, when combined, create the basis for a new generation of computing solutions that solve real-world problems. In no particular order, these trends are:

Ubiquitous Internet access
I started my career in the early phases of the dot-com era. I remember fantasizing about the day when everyone could have his or her own T1 line. Well, those days are here. Within the past 10 years, the total number of global broadband users has grown 400% and now represents 30% of the world’s population.

Bandwidth costs have also steadily declined and, thanks to the explosion in mobile technology, you can even carry it around in your back pocket! The movement of data to and from the cloud would not be possible without this readily available and affordable network capacity.

Although outsourcing call center and manufacturing work overseas represents the majority of U.S. press coverage, outsourcing actually comes in all shapes and sizes. The overarching principle is simple. Your company should do what it does better than anyone else and outsource the rest to specialists.

When implemented successfully, outsourcing allows an organization to focus on its core competencies, increase customer satisfaction and lower costs. Its expanding use has created the environment in which companies are comfortable with the idea of moving their data and applications into the cloud.

Global markets
Because of the recent financial crisis, we’re all aware of how interconnected the global markets are. However, this extends well beyond the sale of commodities and securities. Every major industry within our economy faces competitive pressures both domestically and abroad. To remain viable, organizations must increase the rate of innovation and aggressively drive down costs.

This hyper-competitive landscape has created demand for cloud computing. In addition to the potential cost savings I’ve already outlined, cloud delivery lowers the risk associated with more frequent product release cycles and expansion into new geographic regions by lowering up-front investment costs.

Mo’ better data
We really are living in the information age. IDC estimates that the amount of digital data increased by 62% from 2008 to 2009 to a total of 800 billion gigabytes. By 2020, they project this to increase to 35 trillion gigabytes. If this information was written to DVD and placed on my desk, the stack would reach halfway to Mars.

Translating this data into information and knowledge is a challenge every modern business faces. As the volume of data increases, so does the amount of computing power required to store, process, catalogue and manage it. This tends to increase our reliance on this information, which, in turn, also increases the cost of data center downtime.

Clouds represent an efficient way to meet these challenges. Capacity can be dynamically provisioned to account for fluctuations in data processing demand. In the event of a problem, applications and data can be relocated to maintain availability.

Every cowboy needs a sidekick
Just like in the old days of the Wild West, the rules are being made up as we go along and the terrain is difficult to navigate. Although I won’t pretend to have all of the answers, the intent of this series of posts is to highlight common misconceptions, pitfalls, and hyperbole within the cloud computing marketplace so that companies can make more informed decisions. I hope you find it to be practical, informative, and thought provoking. I encourage you to share your own thoughts, experiences and opinions as we go along.

Justin Alexander

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