According to Daniel Robinson of v3.co.uk, it is time we start treating cloud technology as just part of the way IT is delivered these days, and not as if it is some scary new addition to the IT scene. Cloud services have been around longer than people realise, for example Hotmail is an early example of an SaaS. Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been offering its EC2 virtual machine service since 2006. Mostly these services have been targeted at consumers or developers, but recently this trend seems to be shifting. Many organisations seem to have decided that cloud has the ability to deliver convenient and cost effective IT services.
A number of enterprise IT providers are taking cloud services online, expecting customers to want this in the future. Microsoft has recently launched Windows Azure, its own IaaS platform, for example. Enterprise customers can create virtual networks using Azure and create virtual servers to link to their own corporate domain. This can be managed as if it was on-premise infrastructure, and is potentially more cost effective.
There are also downsides, however. You have to consider what happens if your cloud provider suffers an outage. Organisations need to consider if vital infrastructure and services should be backed up on a second cloud service provider or on premise. Would it be possible for the organisation to create a duplicate of its application setup on two clouds that might be based on different platforms and expose different APIs to the world? There is clearly much to consider.
Service providers such as Microsoft and Amazon are doing what they can to make cloud services more attractive and financially viable. There are clearly some issues that would need to be addressed, but the likelihood is that cloud is going to become more prevalent in the future.
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