The ultimate guide to cloud computing
Cloud computing continues to occupy the minds of CTOs of large enterprises, but to many SMB owners, it remains a puzzle as many still do not have a clear idea of its business implications, operational benefits and cost-effectiveness.
What is Cloud computing and the buzz about? How will it benefit your operations? Cloud is a virtual space where companies, users or vendors can offer their services, applications or process bandwidth from data centers for sale, rent or share over the Internet. There is no need to install bulky servers on your company property, as everything will be hosted remotely. Some of the services include:
• Shared Web Hosting: Building and managing websites without the need to have in-depth technical knowledge of servers, email, or databases.
• Messaging and Collaboration Solutions: Enterprise-class messaging and collaboration solutions that enable companies to use email, voice and calendaring to run their daily operations.
• Virtualized Infrastructure Services: Off-premise IT infrastructure without the cost and resource burden that the typical in-house IT department demands.
• Software as a Service (SaaS): Applications that can help minimize operations and maintenance costs, and businesses no longer having to worry about buying servers to run the application, managing settings, or downloading patches and upgrades.
The solutions above are based on the concept of sharing. You share server space with other users; you run the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application that is shared with thousands of other companies. By ‘sharing’ resources, cost from initiative setup to maintenance cost is spread out, thus making it easier to afford the IT resources that you require. Simply put, Cloud is democratizing IT to be more affordable for everyone.
Cloud Opportunity in Asia in Growing Exponentially
Asia continues to present an ample opportunity for Cloud growth. Although the Cloud adoption rate by SMBs in the region lags behind the rest of the developed world, the region is well positioned to lead the next wave. According to Parallels Asia-Pacific SMB Cloud Insights™, our proprietary report on Cloud landscape in China, India, Japan and China, the market opportunity to serve SMBs in the developed Asian markets such as Australia and Japan remains opportunistic while developing countries such as China and India are poised for explosive growth as they continue to build out Internet infrastructure.
To Asian SMBs, the number one impediment for them to leap over to the Cloud is the investment cost and ROI outcome. What the market needs is constant education of Cloud to SMB owners to illustrate the expected returns of adopting Cloud far outweighs the initial outlay.
With continued education in place, we anticipate many of the SMBs in developing markets will forego the process of installing in-house infrastructure and go directly to the Cloud. Of course, it is imperative for service providers to understand their target audiences per market and offer customized services to meet the specific needs and demands of each SMB.
Five Different Ways to Adopt Cloud
According to Gartner, there are five different ways to adopt Cloud:
Rehosting on Infrastructure-as-a-Service
Involves redeploy applications to a different hardware environment and change the application’s infrastructure configuration. Rehosting an application without making changes to its architecture can provide a fast Cloud migration solution; the flipside is that opportunities to scale the system architecture during the migration might be lost.
Refactoring for Platform-as-a-Service
To run applications on a Cloud provider’s infrastructure, blending familiarity with innovation as backward-compatible, without losing the framework previously invested. The drawbacks are potential missing capabilities, transitive risk, and framework lock-in.
Revising for Infrastructure-as-a-Service or Platform-as-a-Service
Modify or extend the existing code base to support legacy modernization requirements, then use rehost or refactor options to deploy to Cloud. This option allows organizations to optimize the application to leverage the Cloud characteristics of the providers' infrastructure. The downside is that kicking off a development project will require upfront expenses to mobilize a development team and likely to take most time to deliver.
Rebuilding on Platform-as-a-Service
Discard code for an existing application and re-architect the application. The advantage of rebuilding an application is access to innovative features in the provider's platform. Lock-in is the primary disadvantage.
Replacing existing applications with Software-as-a-Service
This means discarding an existing application (or set of applications) and using commercial software delivered as a service. This option avoids investment in mobilizing a development team when requirements for a business-functionality change quickly. Disadvantages can include inconsistent data semantics, data access issues, and vendor lock-in.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
There’s no one size fits all solution. For a SMB owner, he or she needs to be nimble and constantly be aware of the business expenditures, which co-relate to having an IT infrastructure that is easy to maintain, or even better, to let a service provider who is better at managing your IT while you can focus on running your core business.
Utilizing a SaaS model may be a better option for a new SMB setup as you can quickly utilize existing commercial software to get your business quickly off the ground, without having going through a longer ‘burn’ period for your business.
For slightly those more ‘mature’ SMBs with vested software in place, exploring a PaaS model can be a great cost-saving alternative. Pending on the scale, migration can be done relatively fast and painlessly without much distraction to on-going business operations.
Start Small, Minimize Your Risks and Evolve Your Cloud Strategy
No matter which Cloud model to adopt, it helps if you to start small and identify one workload that you can put into the Cloud. Minimize your risks and find a hosting or Cloud services provider that is able to support in your geography or that cater to your type of business, with reliable online backup services. Lastly evolve your Cloud strategy as you need to look forward to map out your future IT requirements as you continue to expand your business.
No matter what the naysayers have to say about the downside of Cloud, the advantages far outweigh the issues. Cloud is still a relatively ‘young’ technology and it is undergoing evolution. Once the critical mass is reached, the Cloud is expected to be driven by user communities and business owners where platforms, infrastructure and software reside in a scalable ecosystem. Cost for utilizing Cloud will be further democratized with a highly evolved per-as-you-use utility model. For a SMB owner, the time to adopt Cloud is now.
Jan-Jaap Jager, Vice President / General Manager , Parallels Asia Pacific