Cloud computing is an innovative, even disruptive, model of delivering and consuming IT services efficiently that will challenge conventional thinking about enterprise IT.
It enables IT hardware, software and services to be dynamically provisioned via the Internet. Whether outsourced from a third party and paid on a usage basis, or undertaken by the enterprise itself, cloud computing enables the enterprise to speedily fulfill IT requirements for resources over the network and pay for it as an operating expense.
Cloud computing marks the latest paradigm shift in enterprise IT as it moves from being product-based to being service-based. It will impact the way enterprises procure, deliver and support IT infrastructure, development platforms, applications and business solutions. Cloud computing will enable enterprises to address key business issues of reducing IT costs, driving innovation and improving business agility.
Industry analyst firm IDC estimates the cloud services market across the Asia Pacific region (excluding Japan) to be worth US$1.28 billion this year, rising to US$4.59 billion in 2014.
There are three main types of cloud services:
Infrastructure as a service Infrastructure as a service cloud providers like Amazon EC2 enable enterprises to obtain computing resources servers, storage, network bandwidth on an on-demand basis to supplement in-house capability. This model delivers elasticity, economies of scale and cost advantages that go beyond standalone data centres.
Platform as a service Independent software vendors and application developers in enterprises can take advantage of cloud-based environments that provision capabilities to develop, test and deploy applications quickly using third party infrastructure. Google App Engine is one example of platform as a service.
Software as a service Application clouds exist for almost all enterprise functions customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, human resources. Users subscribing to these services receive them via the Web and enjoy accessibility anywhere, anytime. Salesforce.com is one example of software as a service.
The Symbian Foundation, owner of developer.symbian.org, adopted a private cloud to meet its need for a cost-effective solution for its developer site. With an open source cloud environment, the foundation is able to respond to business changes, new requirements and peaks in website traffic without having to invest heavily in more software and hardware resources.
A number of elements have converged to bring about the rise of cloud computing as a new generation service: the ubiquity of the Internet, virtualisation technology, increasing commoditisation of hardware and open source software.
Virtualisation technology is foundational for cloud computing. It enables cloud providers to consolidate computing resources and then dynamically provision on demand. It is a major contributor to the speed and cost advantages of cloud computing. With virtualisation, server utilisation can improve to as much as 80 per cent. This efficient utilisation of resources is simply good economics.
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