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Cloud Computing - a 3-page Primer

Cloud Computing - a 3-page Primer

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Cloud Computing overview for a non-technical business person. This brief introduction includes two examples - firstly, Software as a Service (SaaS) and secondly, Platform as a Service (PaaS). This will take you 5 minutes to read.
Cloud Computing overview for a non-technical business person. This brief introduction includes two examples - firstly, Software as a Service (SaaS) and secondly, Platform as a Service (PaaS). This will take you 5 minutes to read.

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Published by: Optimal Technology Solutions Ltd on Oct 05, 2009
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11/05/2009

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Cloud Computing:
 
a 3-page Primer
 
 
Cloud Computing: a 3-page primer
By Pete Clouston
The Future
 Cloud Computing is an exciting, compelling and affordable concept that enablesbusinesses to operate using world-class software and infrastructure.Picture the future. Your business runs its systems and applications 'online'. Not a serveror piece of shrink-wrapped software in sight. And a few more dollars left in the coffers,too.I wouldn't mind betting that this could be the picture for a lean, competitively-edgedbusiness in a year's time.Embracing Cloud Computing can put a business in a position that allows it to focus onand invest in growing its core strengths, excelling at what it's already well known for andperhaps innovating into new areas.Today's picture will, probably, look rather different.
Revolution and Evolution
 Despite the nay-sayers, cloud computing is both revolution and evolution - and it'scertainly changing the shape of technology, as well as the value proposition of thetraditional IT function.
 
Cloud computing is a revolution for those who decide to embrace it, extend it orbuild upon it for competitive advantage.
 
 
For those who want to stand back and move slowly towards it from their presentpicture, Cloud Computing is an evolution.Imagine moving your IT provision - servers, disk space, applications, data - beyond yourbusiness and into 'the cloud'. It's a real paradigm shift, that's for sure. As we'lldiscover, it's not an unproven or risky path for New Zealand businesses to take.Rather than the traditional model of purchasing a physical software or hardware
 product 
,cloud computing introduces the notion of subscription to a
service
.
Example 1 - Software as a Service (SaaS)
 
Background 
You decide your existing accounting software package is not meeting your company'srequirements.
Embracing the Cloud 
Instead of committing to purchase an alternative 'product' and arranging to have itinstalled across your company's PCs, Macs or server, you undertake a free trial of asoftware program used through your web browser (Internet Explorer for example), viathe Internet. The latter is what we mean by software as a 'service'.Following the trial, you can subscribe to the software service - with no multi-year
 
contracts, or complex licencing structure to fathom out. To help your business moveacross, you may want to enlist some external expertise.
Kiwi customers
Major Kiwi organisations are moving to embrace SaaS. These include New ZealandPost as well as the Universities of Auckland and Waikato.They're all using Google Apps, which is a suite of office, collaboration and web siteapplications. Should an Internet connection get interrupted for a period (note the brief Google outage on 2 September), staff can even carry on working in an offline scenario.
Example 2 - Platform as a Service (PaaS)
 
Background 
 Your business employs external software developers to create a new web browser-basedapplication, which your workforce will be able to securely access via the Internet whetherin the office, or working from home. Your business needs to run this application on a
specific technology platform, such as Microsoft’s .Net.
 
Embracing the Cloud 
 Instead of purchasing and installing new production/backup servers, technologyframework and database instance, your business looks to utilise a cloud-based Platformas a Service resource.Your business pays a monthly subscription to utilise the computing platform which hostsand delivers the new application. The computing resource scales according to demand,so if your headcount increases by 25% over the next few months, you can easily allocatemore computing resource, literally at the click of a mouse. You avoid the worry of needing to buy/install a hard drive (say), how to install and maintain the technologyframework or how to back up data. That's all now the responsibility of the PaaSprovider.
Kiwi customers
 One example of a Kiwi company utilising PaaS is Christchurch-based Trineo,founded by Daniel Fowlie. Using PaaS, Trineo is developing LegalSoftOnline.com - an online practicemanagement tool for legal firms. LegalSoftOnline.com is based upon a PaaS solutioncalled force.com. The force.com PaaS solution used by Trineo offers programmablebusiness logic and user interfaces, as well as customisable databases.
A new opportunity for innovation
 There's more to the cloud than SaaS or PaaS. Embracing the 'cloud' is more than simplyan exercise in smart outsourcing.Cloud Computing is also about using technology - web standards, clever software codingand cloud service providers - to create new value for your business. By 'new value' Imean things like a competitive edge, innovation and even a new business model.
Pros and cons
 I'm a realist/optimist more than a blind optimist. So let's clarify that Cloud Computing isnot perfect in every sense.In the cloud, data is stored somewhere else other than your office (maybe that happensalready). So while in the cloud your business would still own its data, the data would be

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