Monday, March 28, 2011

Advantages of Cloud Computing– Part XXII – Flexibility

A simple definition of Cloud Computing goes something like this: Cloud Computing provides for a remote service that users can access over the Internet.

Simple as it is, that short definition is far too broad to tell us what we need to know. If you leave it at that, you might as well say: Cloud Computing began in 1969 with the creation of the Internet.

That may be a true statement as well, but it tells us nothing about how we can benefit from it. It reminds me of a time back in 1987, when a client asked one of my salesmen to tell him how a computer works, and he replied, “Real good, and that’s all you need to know.”

Mike Stevens at ‘IT Business Edge and’ wrote:  “Cloud Computing is an extension of a company’s existing infrastructure with enterprise-class features like redundancy, high availability and disaster recovery, provided at a substantially lower cost than on-site approaches.’” WOW! That’s also a true statement, but honestly, I didn’t want to know how to build a watch. I simply wanted the time of day.

So let’s drop definitions and move on to ‘reasons’. The most compelling reason to explore Cloud Computing is that it gets you out of ‘IT Jail’. For decades now, you have been locked inside an inflexible environment that dictates how you have to run your business. The orders and rules come from your own IT staff, or from a company that proclaims they know how everybody’s business ought to be run. Maybe this was good enough in the eighties, maybe even during the nineties; but if the past decade has taught us anything, it should have proven the need for us to start running our own show. Cloud computing is the best solution to put you back into the driver’s seat.

According to the ‘Cloud Computing Journal’, 51% of Internet users, who have done a cloud computing activity, say the major reasons are convenience, flexibility, and ease of deployment. 41% of cloud users say the major reason they use these applications in a cloud computing environment is because of the ability to access data from any computer or remote location. 39% cite the ease of sharing information as the top reason to use a SaaS (Software As A Service) application. 63% involved with any kind of application in the cloud, expect superior customer service and performance, and would quickly switch to another provider if they felt the level of service was not up to par.” All of these statements add up to increased ‘flexibility’.

As we move away from the on-site approach to a shared environment with greater flexibility, we are going to make mistakes. The costs of making mistakes in a cloud environment are substantially less than those where a heavy up-front investment has been made. The convenience to pay for only the services you use, and for only the period of time you are satisfied, cannot be overstated. It’s also a tremendous incentive for the provider of those services to perform in a way which will insure your satisfaction. You have a powerful weapon to hold over your cloud provider… unless you do something foolish like sign an open-ended long –term agreement.

We let our customers play with it for a month before they make the decision to commit to anything, and after they agree it is the right solution from them, then and only then do they start to pay for the service. For a provider to be able to do this, either they have to be awfully sure of themselves, or they have to get their installation cost down to nothing. That’s where cloud computing really shines. 


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